COVID social distancing and the poor: an analysis of the evidence for England
online resourceposted on 04.09.2020, 10:57 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.
- Business and Economics