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Working Paper, No. 2020-12, May 2020 Crossref
Do Stay-at-Home Orders Cause People to Stay at Home? Effects of Stay-at-Home Orders on Consumer Behavior (REVISED June 2020)

We link the county-level rollout of stay-at-home orders 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 8% by the day after 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 stores. However, consumers sharply increased spending on food delivery services after orders went into effect. Third, responses to stay-at-home orders were fairly uniform across the country, and do not vary by income, political leanings, or urban/rural status.


Working papers are not edited, and all opinions and errors are responsibility of the author(s). The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago or the Federal Reserve System.

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