Covid-19 lockdowns shaved 3.5% off U.S. GDP in 2020 even as the federal government spent more than $2.6 trillion in relief measures. Millions of children fell behind in learning and nearly 100,000 businesses closed for good.
Conventional wisdom holds this was worth it because lives were saved by shutting workplaces and schools and telling people to stay home. But a new study by University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan shows the opposite. After the first month of the pandemic, organizations that adopted prevention protocols became safer places than the wider community. Officials who didn’t see that coming forgot that organizations are rational and look for cooperative solutions that improve the welfare of the group, such as reducing the risks of communicable disease.
…Meanwhile, Mr. Mulligan found that there is no evidence that homes became “places of solitary confinement and zero transmission.” That’s putting it mildly. Humans are social animals. Lockdowns were leaky at best with stir-crazy family members venturing out to see friends and relatives.
Most states with the strictest COVID lockdowns destroyed millions of jobs for their citizens, while those with modest, targeted rules are largely experiencing low levels of unemployment even for normal times.