Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Santa Cruz

UC Santa Cruz Previously Published Works bannerUC Santa Cruz

God is in the rain: The impact of rainfall-induced early social distancing on COVID-19 outbreaks


We measure the benefit to society created by preventing COVID-19 deaths through a marginal increase in early social distancing. We exploit county-level rainfall on the last weekend before statewide lockdown in the early phase of the pandemic. After controlling for historical rainfall, temperature, and state fixed-effects, current rainfall is a plausibly exogenous instrument for social distancing. A one percent decrease in the population leaving home on the weekend before lockdown creates an average of 132 dollars of benefit per county resident within 2 weeks. The impacts of earlier distancing compound over time and mainly arise from lowering the risk of a major outbreak, yielding large but unevenly distributed social benefit.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View