Discussion paper

DP14658 A Simple Planning Problem for COVID-19 Lockdown

We study the optimal lockdown policy for a planner who controls the fatalities of a pandemic while minimizing the output costs of the lockdown. The policy depends on the fraction of infected and susceptible in the population, prescribing a severe lockdown beginning two weeks after the outbreak, covering 60% of the population after a month, and gradually withdrawing to 20% of the population after 3 months. The intensity of the optimal lockdown depends on the gradient of the fatality rate with respect to the infected, and the availability of antibody testing that yields a welfare gain of 2% of GDP.


Alvarez, F, D Argente and F Lippi (2020), ‘DP14658 A Simple Planning Problem for COVID-19 Lockdown‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 14658. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp14658