Global | Coronavirus Watch: Lessons from the alternative data
Alternative data indicators, such as lockdown stringency scores and Google mobility trends, have provided a useful guide to the scale of GDP contractions due to the pandemic-induced lockdowns of 2020.
Our analysis of these data series shows that the harm from lockdowns has diminished over time, likely due to the adaptability of businesses and households. Also, since the imposition of initially strict lockdown measures last year, voluntary social distancing appears to have played a more important role in explaining shifts in mobility.
As restrictions on activity look set to be lifted only gradually, we expect changes in voluntary social distancing will again prove more important in determining the scale of the near-term economic recovery. Lower Covid case numbers, lockdown fatigue, and vaccine-induced behavioural shifts suggest the reduction in voluntary social distancing could be swift.