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Mr. Francesco Caselli, Mr. Francesco Grigoli, Weicheng Lian, and Mr. Damiano Sandri

voluntary social distancing. Some papers find that lockdowns have a severe impact on the economy. Using customized survey data, Coibion et al. (2020) document that lockdowns accounted for much of the decline in employment and consumer spending in the US during the first months of the country’s epidemic. Beland et al. (2020) and Gupta et al. (2020) use data from the US Current Population Survey and also find that stay-at-home orders led to large increases in unemployment. Analyzing transaction level data from bank accounts, Baker et al. (2020) find that consumer

Mr. Francesco Caselli, Mr. Francesco Grigoli, Weicheng Lian, and Mr. Damiano Sandri
Using high-frequency proxies for economic activity over a large sample of countries, we show that the economic crisis during the first seven months of the COVID-19 pandemic was only partly due to government lockdowns. Economic activity also contracted because of voluntary social distancing in response to higher infections. We also show that lockdowns can substantially reduce COVID-19 infections, especially if they are introduced early in a country's epidemic. Despite involving short-term economic costs, lockdowns may thus pave the way to a faster recovery by containing the spread of the virus and reducing voluntary social distancing. Finally, we document that lockdowns entail decreasing marginal economic costs but increasing marginal benefits in reducing infections. This suggests that tight short-lived lockdowns are preferable to mild prolonged measures.
Mr. Francesco Caselli, Mr. Francesco Grigoli, Weicheng Lian, and Mr. Damiano Sandri

Contents 1 Introduction 2 Lockdowns and Voluntary Social Distancing 2.1 Impact on Mobility 2.1.1 Informing the Recovery 2.2 Impact on Job Postings 3 Lockdowns and COVID-19 Infections 4 Nonlinear Effects of Lockdowns 5 Conclusions References A Data Sources and Country Coverage List of Figures 1 High-Frequency Proxies of Economic Activity for the First Semester of 2020 2 Impact of a Full Lockdown on Mobility 3 Impact of Voluntary Social Distancing on Mobility 4 Contributions to the Mobility Decline 5 Impact of a Full

International Monetary Fund. European Dept.

Context 1. The COVID pandemic has dealt a harsh blow to the Italian people and their economy . Infections and fatalities have been high across the three waves of the pandemic. Restrictions on mobility and voluntary social distancing instituted to limit contagion have had a severe but highly uneven effect on economic activity, with contact-intensive services—tourism, hospitality, transport—having been especially hard hit ( Box 1 ). COVID Cases of Most Affected Countries (Cases in millions and cases per 100K as of May 10, 2021) Sources: Johns