Discussion paper

DP15086 The Effect of Containment Measures on the COVID-19 Pandemic

Countries have implemented several containment measures to halt the spread of the 2019 coronavirus disease, but it remains unclear the extent to which these unprecedented measures have been successful. We examine this question using daily data on the number of coronavirus disease cases as well as on real-time containment measures implemented by countries. Results suggest that these measures have been very effective in flattening the “pandemic curve”, but there is significant heterogeneity across countries. Effectiveness is enhanced when measures are implemented quickly, where de facto mobility is curtailed, in countries with lower temperatures and population density, as well as in countries with a larger share of the elderly in total population and stronger health systems. We also find that easing of containment measures has resulted in an increase in the number of cases, but the effect has been lower (in absolute value) than that from a tightening of measures.


Deb, P, D Furceri, J Ostry and N Tawk (2020), ‘DP15086 The Effect of Containment Measures on the COVID-19 Pandemic‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 15086. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp15086