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Mrs. Jana Bricco, Florian Misch, and Alexandra Solovyeva
This paper examines the economic effects of policies to contain Covid-19, by extracting lessons from Sweden’s experience during the ‘Great Lockdown’. Sweden’s approach was less stringent and based more on social responsibility than legal obligations compared to European peers. First, we provide an account of Sweden’s strategy and the health outcomes. Second, drawing on a range of data sources and empirical findings, our analysis of the first Covid-19 wave indicates that a less stringent strategy can soften the economic impact initially. These benefits could be eroded subsequently, due to potentially higher infection rates and a prolonged pandemic, but in Sweden’s case, the evidence remains mixed in this regard, and it is premature to judge the outcome of Sweden’s containment strategy. In addition, the economic effects of the containment strategy also depend on social behavior, demographics and structural features of the economy, such as the degree of export orientation, reliance on global supply chains, and malleability to remote working.
Mrs. Jana Bricco, Florian Misch, and Alexandra Solovyeva

I. Introduction Many countries have imposed aggressive containment and social distancing measures in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19. While the pandemic and containment measures undoubtedly lead to significant economic fallouts, the effects of the latter are still debated. Sweden’s strategy to contain the Covid-19 pandemic has been less stringent than in other advanced economies during the ‘Great Lockdown’ in Europe in March and April 2020. This makes Sweden an outlier in terms of its containment policies, even though the containment strategies

Alexandra Fotiou and Andresa Lagerborg

literature of smart containment strategies that point to targeted lockdowns and selective quarantine (e.g. Eichenbaum et al., 2020 , Favero et al., 2020 , Acemoglu et al., 2020 ). As Andrabi et al. (2020) highlight, a smart containment strategy should be underpinned by data and contact tracing together with testing and authorities promoting voluntary compliance and trust. Dewatripont et al. (2020) propose a two-test approach to identify workers that are immune and non infectious, in line with Berger et al. (2020) who discuss the importance of testing and targeted

Mrs. Jana Bricco, Florian Misch, and Alexandra Solovyeva

Front Matter Page European Department Contents I. INTRODUCTION II. SWEDEN’S CONTAINMENT STRATEGY IN INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE III. SWEDEN’S HEALTH OUTCOMES SO FAR IV. CONTAINMENT POLICIES AND ECONOMIC OUTCOMES A. A ggregate E conomic A ctivity B. S ectoral E conomic A ctivity C. J ob S eekers and B eneficiaries of S hort-term W ork S chemes D. M obility I ndicators V. C onclusion and P olicy I mplications REFERENCES FIGURES 1. S trictness of S ocial D istancing M easures 2. N umber of R eported COVID-19 C