The gray zone: How not imposing a strict lockdown at the beginning of a pandemic can cost many lives

Federico Crudu, Roberta Di Stefano, Giovanni Mellace*, Silvia Tiezzi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The public debate on the effectiveness of lockdown measures is far from being settled. We estimate the impact of not having implemented a strict lockdown in the Bergamo province, during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite observing an infection rate in this area similar to the one observed in nearby municipalities where a strict lockdown was instead promptly implemented. We estimate the causal effect of this policy decision on daily excess mortality using the synthetic control method (SCM). We find that about two-thirds of the reported deaths could have been avoided had the Italian government declared a Red Zone in the Bergamo province. We also clarify that, in this context, SCM and difference-in-differences implicitly restrict effect heterogeneity. We provide a way to empirically assess the credibility of this assumption in our setting.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102580
JournalLabour Economics
ISSN0927-5371
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5. Jun 2024

Keywords

  • Bergamo
  • Causal impact
  • COVID-19
  • Non-pharmaceutical interventions
  • Red zone
  • Synthetic control method

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