Working Paper

Do Stay-at-Home Orders Cause People to Stay at Home? Effects of Stay-at-Home Orders on Consumer Behavior

Abstract: We link the county-level rollout of stay-at-home orders to anonymized cell phone records and consumer spending data. We document three patterns. First, stay-at-home orders caused people to stay at home: County-level measures of mobility declined 9–13% by the day after the stay-at-home order went into effect. Second, stay-at-home orders caused large reductions in spending in sectors associated with mobility: restaurants and retail stores. However, consumers sharply increased spending on food delivery services after orders went into effect. Third, while the response of residents to stay-at-home orders was fairly uniform across the country, there is substantial county-level heterogeneity in consumer behavior in the days before and after a stay-at-home order.

Keywords: stay-at-home orders; high-frequency data; consumer spending; Covid-19;

JEL Classification: E21; I12; R20; R50;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Part of Series: Working Paper Series

Publication Date: 2020-05-07

Number: WP 2020-12

Note: REVISED May 2020