Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Research Institute of Industrial Economics

No 1340: The Individual Welfare Costs of Stay-at-Home Policies

Ola Andersson (), Pol Campos-Mercade (), Fredrik Carlsson (), Florian Schneider () and Erik Wengström ()
Additional contact information
Ola Andersson: Department of Economics, Uppsala University, Postal: and Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden
Pol Campos-Mercade: Copenhagen University
Fredrik Carlsson: University of Gothenburg, Postal: and Center for Collective Action Research, Sweden
Florian Schneider: University of Zurich
Erik Wengström: Lund University, Postal: and Hanken School of Economics, Finland

Abstract: This paper reports the results of a choice experiment designed to estimate the private welfare costs of stay-at-home policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study is conducted on a large and representative sample of the Swedish population. The results suggest that the welfare cost of a one-month stay-at-home policy, restricting non-working hours away from home, amounts to 9.1 percent of Sweden's monthly GDP. The cost can be interpreted as 29,600 quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), which roughly corresponds to between 3,700 and 8,000 COVID-19 fatalities. Moreover, we find that stricter and longer lockdowns are disproportionately more costly than more lenient ones. This result indicates that strict stay-at-home policies are likely to be cost-effective only if they slow the spread of the disease much more than more lenient ones.

Keywords: tay-at-home orders; welfare effects; choice experiment

JEL-codes: D62; I18

42 pages, May 26, 2020

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