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Title: The Intergenerational Mortality Tradeoff of COVID-19 Lockdown Policies

Author(s): Damien De Walque, Quy-Toan Do, Jed Friedman, Andrei A. Levchenko, Lin Ma and Gil Shapira

Publication Date: June 2021

Keyword(s): child mortality, COVID-19, lockdown and SIR-macro

Programme Area(s): Development Economics and Macroeconomics and Growth

Abstract: In lower-income countries, the economic contractions that accompany lockdowns tocontain the spread of COVID-19 can increase child mortality, counteracting the mortality reductions achieved by the lockdown. To formalize and quantify this effect, we build a macro-susceptible-infected-recovered model that features heterogeneous agents and a country-group-specific relationship between economic downturns and child mortality, and calibrate it to data for 85 countries across all income levels. We find that in low-income countries, a lockdown can potentially lead to 1.76 children's lives lost due to the economic contraction per COVID-19 fatality averted. The ratio stands at 0.59 and 0.06 in lower-middle and upper-middle income countries, respectively. As a result, in some countries lockdowns actually can produce net increases in mortality. The optimal lockdowns are shorter and milder in poorer countries than in rich ones, and never produce a net mortality increase.

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Bibliographic Reference

De Walque, D, Do, Q, Friedman, J, Levchenko, A, Ma, L and Shapira, G. 2021. 'The Intergenerational Mortality Tradeoff of COVID-19 Lockdown Policies'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research. https://cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=16227