Jesús Fernández-Villaverde, Charles I. Jones

Bibliographic Information

NBER Working Paper No. 27128
Issued in May 2020
NBER Program(s):EFG, HC, HE

Available Formats


We use data on deaths in New York City, Madrid, Stockholm, and other world cities as well as in various U.S. states and various countries and regions to estimate a standard epidemiological model of COVID-19. We allow for a time-varying contact rate in order to capture behavioral and policy-induced changes associated with social distancing. We simulate the model forward to consider possible futures for various countries, states, and cities, including the potential impact of herd immunity on re-opening. Our current baselinemortality rate (IFR) is assumed to be 1.0% but we recognize there is substantial uncertainty about this number. Our model fits the death data equally well with alternative mortality rates of 0.5% or 1.2%, so this parameter is unidentified in our data. However, its value matters enormously for the extent to which various places can relax social distancing without spurring a resurgence of deaths.

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