Lunch Seminar Economics (LSE) - 2020/2021
Interviene: Pedro Trivin, Università di Bergamo
Close proximity interactions facilitate the spread of COVID-19, which is predominantly transmitted via droplets. In this paper, we study to what extend the transmission and mortality of the virus are related to social habits regarding physical interactions. Using high-frequency data of 220 European regions in 15 countries we find that a standard deviation increase in the percentage of people having daily face-to-face contacts is associated with 5 new COVID-19 daily cases, on average, per week and with 2.5 more weekly excess deaths. We further observe that regions with a larger share of face-to-face contacts have a larger number of COVID-19 cases and excess mortality at the beginning of the pandemic. Interestingly, we find that these regions are also associated with a larger number of COVID-19 cases in the second wave, indicating that social habits are persistent and should be taken into consideration for the design of social distance policies in the future.