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COVID social distancing and the poor: an analysis of the evidence for England

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posted on 04.09.2020 by Parantap Basu, Clive Bell, Huw Edwards
Social distancing is a matter of individuals’ choices as well as of regulation, and regulation arguably responds to those choices. We analyse weekly panel data on such behaviour for English Upper Tier Local Authorities (UTLAs) from March to July 2020, paying attention to the influence of poverty, as measured by free school meals provision. Panel regressions suggest that, although more stringent regulation and slightly lagged local cases of infection increase social distancing, both effects are weaker in UTLAs with higher levels of poverty. Thus motivated, we develop a two-class (rich/poor) model, in which a Nash non-cooperative equilibrium arises from individual choices in a regulatory regime with penalties for non-compliance. The model yields results in keeping with the empirical findings, indicating the desirability of generous measures to furlough workers in low-paid jobs as a complement to the stringency of general regulation.

History

School

  • Business and Economics

Department

  • Economics

Published in

COVID Economics

Volume

45

Pages

77 - 110

Publisher

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Version

SMUR (Submitted Manuscript Under Review)

Rights holder

© The Authors

Publisher statement

This paper was published in COVID Economics and is available at https://cepr.org/content/covid-economics.

Acceptance date

24/08/2020

Publication date

2020-08-28

Language

en

Editor(s)

Charles Wyplosz

Depositor

Dr Huw Edwards. Deposit date: 28 August 2020

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