Reopening After Covid: A Replication of Chetty et al.’s “The Economic Impacts of COVID-19.”
During the Covid pandemic, many policies were implemented without knowl- edge of their economic impacts. In this paper, we investigate the efficacy of one policy—state-ordered reopenings—by replicating a portion of Chetty et al. (2020), who assemble a high-frequency database containing measures of economic health using anonymized data from private companies. They use an event study approach to compare the economic trajectory of the first sev- eral states to reopen with a set of controls, finding that the policy had only modest positive effects on spending, employment, business activity, and mo- bility. These results are broadly consistent with a growing literature on pan- demic mandates’ economic impacts. We fail to precisely replicate the results of Chetty et al., finding discrepancies in magnitude, direction, and sample size. Despite these differences, our results are qualitatively similar and support their conclusion that mandates’ economic impacts were modest and that pandemic- driven changes in economic activity were more driven by consumers’ health concerns than policy restrictions, raising questions about stay-at-home orders’ use in future health crises.