DP15939 When to Lock, Not Whom: Managing Epidemics Using Time-Based Restrictions

Author(s): Yinon Bar-On, Tatiana Baron, Ofer Cornfeld, Ron Milo, Eran Yashiv
Publication Date: March 2021
Keyword(s): normative analysis, NPI, positive analysis, public health policy, roles of time
JEL(s): E23, E61, E65, I12, I18
Programme Areas: Labour Economics, Monetary Economics and Fluctuations
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=15939

We present normative and positive analyses of policy tools to manage epidemics, both current and any future ones. Against the background of serious misspecification of COVID19 dynamics in Economics research, at odds with the evidence, we present a constructive alternative with a sound model. This may guide researchers and place the analysis in Economics on solid footing. We introduce novel NPI tools for the management of epidemics. Rather than using prevalent policies based on population restrictions, these place time at the center of the analysis: time restrictions, relation to timescales of virus transmission, and optimal timing of interventions. Key findings are that the new tools significantly improve social welfare, substantially lessening the trade-offs involved; optimally-derived timings of interventions suppress the disease while maintaining reasonable economic activity; and outcomes are superior to the actual experience of New York State and Florida in the course of 2020.