Discussion paper

DP14699 Assessing the Consequences of Quarantines During a Pandemic

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.


Forslid, R and M Herzing (2020), ‘DP14699 Assessing the Consequences of Quarantines During a Pandemic‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 14699. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp14699