DP14699 Assessing the Consequences of Quarantines During a Pandemic

Author(s): Rikard Forslid, Mathias Herzing
Publication Date: May 2020
Keyword(s): COVID-19, Pandemics, Quarantine, SEIR-model
JEL(s): D42, D62, H10, I18, L10
Programme Areas: Public Economics, Macroeconomics and Growth
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14699

This paper analyzes the epidemiological and economic e§ects of quarantines. We use a basic epidemiologic model, a SEIR-model, that is calibrated to roughly resemble the COVID- 19 pandemic, and we assume that individuals that become infected or are isolated on average lose a share of their productivity. An early quarantine will essentially postpone but not alter the course of the infection at a cost that increases in the duration and the extent of the quarantine. A quarantine starting at a later stage of the pandemic reduces the number of infected persons and economic losses, but generates a higher peak level of infectious people. A longer quarantine dampens the peak of the pandemic and reduces deaths, but implies higher economic losses. Both the peak share of infectious individuals and economic losses are U-shaped in relation to the share of the population in quarantine. A quarantine covering a moderate share of the population leads to a lower peak, fewer deaths and lower economic costs, but it implies that the peak of the pandemic occurs earlier.