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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 August 2021)

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 6–7% 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.


Working papers are not edited, and all opinions and errors are the 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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