What is it about?

The study evaluates the effectiveness of social distancing policies in Germany against the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides a comprehensive analysis of the policies and estimates their impact on confirmed cases and fatalities. The provided estimates imply that the policies avoided around 84% of confirmed cases and 66% of fatalities that would have occurred without policy interventions. They also show that the policies’ effects varied across different socio-demographic groups and regions. The analysis of cell phone data, moreover, suggests that the citizens limited their social contacts as intended by the German authorities.

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Why is it important?

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical role of social distancing in controlling the spread of infectious diseases. Understanding the effectiveness of social distancing measures and their potential trade-offs is crucial for policymakers and public health officials in designing effective and sustainable public health interventions. The paper shows that such policies are very effective in the fight against COVID-19. The proposed quasi-experimental strategy can be applied to other settings, providing a useful tool for researchers and policymakers to evaluate the impact of policy interventions.


Writing this article with amazing coauthors was great fun. It made me think about the involved trade-offs and methods for evaluating such policies. I hope others like our work.

Ulrich Glogowsky
Johannes Kepler Universitat Linz

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: How effective are social distancing policies? Evidence on the fight against COVID-19, PLoS ONE, September 2021, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0257363.
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