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CEP discussion paper

Partial lockdown and the spread of Covid-19: lessons from the Italian case


This paper investigates the effect of exemption of essential sectors from the lockdown enacted in Italy in Spring 2020 on COVID-19 infections and mortality. We exploit the distribution of the density of essential workers across provinces and rich administrative data in a difference in difference framework. We find that a standard deviation increase in essential workers per square kilometre leads to about 1.1 additional daily registered cases per 100,000 inhabitants. In addition, we show that a similar change in density leads to 0.32 additional daily deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. Back of envelope computations suggest that about one third of the Covid-19 cases in the period considered could be attributed to the less stringent lockdown for essential sectors as well as about 13,000 additional deaths, with an additional 107 million Euros in direct expenditure for the National Health System. In addition, we find that these effects are heterogeneous across sectors, with Services having a much larger impact than Manufacturing, and across geographic areas, with smaller benefits in areas less affected by the pandemic. These results are stable across a wide range of specifications and robustness check.


Paolo Naticchioni, Vincenzo Scrutinio and Edoardo di Porto

1 October 2020     Paper Number CEPDP1720

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This CEP discussion paper is published under the centre's Labour markets programme.