Research on the Socioeconomic Impact of Pandemics by Members and Friends of the Department of Economics, University of Toronto
Working Paper: Estimating COVID-19 Prevalence in the United States: A Sample Selection Model ApproachPublished: Tuesday May 19, 2020, 10:29:41 AMAuthor(s): David Benatia, Raphael Godefroy, Joshua Lewis
Abstract: Public health efforts to determine population infection rates from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have been hampered by limitations in testing capabilities and the large shares of mild and asymptomatic cases. We adapted a sample selection model that corrects for non-random testing to estimate population infection rates. The methodology compares how the observed positive case rate vary with changes in the size of the tested population, and applies this gradient to infer total population infection rates. Model identification requires that variation in testing rates be uncorrelated with changes in underlying disease prevalence. To this end, we relied on data on day-to-day changes in completed tests across U.S. states for the period March 31 to April 7, which were primarily influenced by immediate supply-side constraints. We used this methodology to construct predicted infection rates for each state over the sample period. The results suggest widespread undiagnosed COVID-19 infection. Nationwide, we found that for every identified case there were 12 total infections in the population.
Policy Brief: Social distancing mandates reduce small business electricity usage across OntarioPublished: Thursday May 14, 2020, 01:03:50 PMAuthor(s): Abdelrahman Amer, Angelo Melino, Aloysius Siow
Abstract: 1. We used the year over year decline in electricity usage of small businesses to understand the impact of social distancing on economic activity.
2. Despite different infection rates across Ontario, province wide government mandates have led to uniform decreases in economic activity. Even in places with few infections, distancing policies, which may be less effective due to so few cases, are having large impacts on economic activity.
3. While our estimates show that people change how they practice social distancing based on the number of local infection cases, most of their behavior is determined by the provincial wide mandates.
4. These findings suggest that easing social distancing mandates in locations with few cases will lead to increased economic activity in a safer way than uniformly lifting social distancing practices across the province.
5. Our next briefng note will study the efficacy of province wide social mandates on mitigating the transmission of the disease across across Ontario.
Keywords: Disease Diffusion, Electricity Usage, Ontario, Regional Variation, Social Distancing Mandates
Policy Brief: COVID-19 Social Distancing Mandates and Shutdowns in OntarioPublished: Thursday May 14, 2020, 01:01:46 PMAuthor(s): Rida Aamer
Abstract: On January 25, 2020, Ontario became the first province in Canada to report a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. At the time of writing, the number of cases in Ontario has spiked to well over twenty thousand. As the province amassed the second-largest number of infections in the country, the Ontario government implemented a series of progressively restrictive social distancing mandates and shutdowns. This brief outlines the evolution of social distancing mandates and shutdowns at the federal and provincial level in Ontario, with an additional examination of municipal-level mandates in Toronto. By moving quickly to take advantage of the authorities laid out in the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, the government of Ontario implemented a coherent, unified policy response to the crisis throughout the province and prevented the evolution of a locally-determined, inconsistent patchwork of mandates.
Keywords: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Declaration Of Emergency, Emergency Management And Civil Protection Act, Mandates, Ontario, Pandemic, Physical Distancing, Reopening, Social Distancing, Timeline, Toronto