Working Paper Revision

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 during the Covid-19 pandemic to anonymized cell phone records and consumer spending data. We document three patterns. First, stay-at-home orders caused people to stay home: county-level measures of mobility declined 7–8% within two days of when the stay-at-home order went into effect. Second, stay-at-home orders caused large reductions in spending in sectors associated with mobility: small businesses and large retail chains. Third, we estimate fairly uniform responses to stay-at-home orders across the country; effects do not vary by county-level income, political leanings, or urban/rural status.

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

JEL Classification: A19; E21; I12; R20; R50;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Part of Series: Working Paper Series

Publication Date: 2021-04-13

Number: WP-2020-12

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