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

45 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2020 Last revised: 13 Apr 2021

See all articles by Diane Alexander

Diane Alexander

University of Pennsylvania - Health Care Management

Ezra Karger

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Date Written: April 8, 2021

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, consumer spending, high-frequency data

JEL Classification: E21, I12, R2, R5

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Diane and Karger, Ezra, Do Stay-at-Home Orders Cause People to Stay at Home? Effects of Stay-at-Home Orders on Consumer Behavior (April 8, 2021). FRB of Chicago Working Paper No. 2020-12, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3583625 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3583625

Diane Alexander (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - Health Care Management ( email )

204 Colonial Penn Center
3641 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, 19104-6218
United States

Ezra Karger

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago ( email )

230 South LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60604
United States

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