How U.S. Travel Restrictions on China Affected the Spread of COVID-19 in the United States

Regardless of the intervention date or how the spread of COVID-19 is measured, we find that the travel restrictions did not delay the prevalence of COVID-19 in the United States.

June 8, 2020 • Working Paper No. 58

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, President Trump imposed travel restrictions on the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to slow its spread to the United States. We use the synthetic control method (SCM) under sixteen different specifications to see whether the travel restrictions slowed the domestic spread of COVID-19. The travel restrictions had no effect on the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States. Regardless of the intervention date or how the spread of COVID-19 is measured, we find that the travel restrictions did not delay the prevalence of COVID-19 in the United States.

Wp 58 cover

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About the Authors
Alex Nowrasteh

Director of Immigration Studies and the Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies