Benefits of Coronavirus Suppression: A Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Response to the First Wave of COVID-19   [open pdf - 0B]

From the Abstract: "This paper estimates the benefits and costs of state suppression policies to 'bend the curve' during the initial outbreak of COVID-19 [coronavirus disease 2019] in the United States. Relative to a baseline in which only the infected and at-risk populations mitigate the spread of coronavirus, we estimate that total benefits of suppression policies are between $440 billion and $1,049 billion up to August 4, 2020. We employ a value-of-production approach that values the benefits of each prevented COVID-19 death as avoided losses to total production. The production value of life differs significantly from the value of a statistical life (VSL) commonly employed in cost-benefit analysis, and we identify several problems with using the VSL. Relative to private mitigation, the costs of suppression policies are estimated to be between $255 billion and $464 billion. The cost estimate is based on suppression policies being enforced in the United States for between 50 and 91 days, which reflects that many states lifted stay-at-home orders and nonessential business closures in May 2020. Our results indicate that the net benefits of suppression policies to slow the spread of COVID-19 are likely positive and may be substantial, but given significant uncertainty, net benefits may be close to zero."

2020 by James Broughel, Michael Kotrous, and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University
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Mercatus Center: https://www.mercatus.org/
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Listed on July 1, 2020 [Critical Releases]