Stay-at-Home Orders and the Willingness to Stay Home

by William J. Luther
The American Institute for Economic Research

There is much debate about the desirability of state-issued stay-at-home orders. On one side, those in favor of lifting the orders argue that the cure is worse than the disease. Some maintain that the disease is not as bad as most experts claim. Others merely note the devastating psychological and economic effects of isolation and reluctantly accept that many lives will be lost from opening up.

On the other side, those in favor of the stay-at-home orders argue that a few months of isolation is a small price to pay to save lives. Some reject the idea of considering the trade-off when lives are on the line altogether. Others deny the trade-off on the grounds that mass casualties would have an even bigger negative effect on our psychological and economic well-being.

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