Public responses to COVID-19 case disclosure and their spatial implications


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We study how the public changes their mobility and retail spending patterns as precautionary responses to the disclosed location of COVID-19 cases. To look into the underlying mechanisms, we investigate how such change varies spatially and whether there is any spatial spillover or substitution. We use the daily data of cell phone-based mobility and credit card transactions between February 10 and May 31 in both 2019 and 2020 in Seoul, South Korea, and employ the empirical approach analyzing the year-over-year percent change for the mobility and consumption outcomes. Results report that one additional COVID-19 case within the last 14 days decreased nonresident inflow and retail spending by 0.40 and 0.65 percentage points, respectively. Then, we also find evidence of spatial heterogeneity: the mobility and retail performances of neighborhoods with higher residential population density were more resilient to COVID-19 case information while neighborhoods with higher levels of land-use diversity and retail agglomeration experienced a greater localized demand shock. This heterogeneity is not negligible. For example, one additional COVID-19 case in neighborhoods in the bottom 20% for population density led to a decline of 1.2 percentage points in retail spending, while other neighborhoods experienced a less negative impact. Finally, we find a significant spatial spillover effect of disclosed COVID-19 information instead of spatial substitution. One additional COVID-19 case in geographically adjacent areas within the last 14 days reduced nonresident inflow and retail spending in the subject neighborhood by 0.06 and 0.09 percentage points, respectively.



COVID-19, location disclosure, neighborhood spillover, precautionary behavior, spatial heterogeneity