HKS Authors

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How effective are restrictions on mobility in limiting COVID-19 spread? Using zip code data across five U.S. cities, we estimate that total cases per capita decrease by 19% for every ten percentage point fall in mobility. Addressing endogeneity concerns, we instrument for travel by residential teleworkable and essential shares and find a 25% decline in cases per capita. Using panel data for NYC with week and zip code fixed effects, we estimate a decline of 30%. We find substantial spatial and temporal heterogeneity; east coast cities have stronger effects, with the largest for NYC in the pandemic’s early stages.


Glaeser, Edward L., Caitlin Gorback, and Stephen J. Redding. "JUE Insight: How much does COVID-19 increase with mobility? Evidence from New York and four other U.S. cities." Journal of Urban Economics 127 (January 2022): 103292.