Working Paper

Social Distancing Following the SARS-Cov-2 Outbreak

Abstract: We develop a Social Distancing Index (SDI) based on a range of mobility metrics from Safegraph geolocation data, and validate the index with mobility data from Google and Unacast. We construct SDIs at the county, MSA, state and nationwide level, and link these measures to indicators of economic activity. According to our measures, the bulk of social distancing occurred during the week of March 15 and simultaneously across the U.S. At the national peak of social distancing in early April, localities that engaged in 10% more social distancing than average saw an additional 0.6% of their populations claiming unemployment insurance, an additional 2.8 pp reduction in small businesses employment, an additional 2.6 pp increase in small business closures, and an additional 3.2 pp reduction in new-business applications. A gradual and broad-based reduction in social distancing started in the third week of April.

Keywords: Social Distancing and Economic Activity; Location Data; COVID-19; Social Distancing Index; SARS-Cov-2;

JEL Classification: E66; C15; R11; R19;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

Part of Series: Working Papers

Publication Date: 2020-05-21

Number: 2014

Pages: 21