The spread of COVID-19 in the United States has prompted extraordinary, although often
untested, steps by individuals and institutions to limit infections. Some have worried that “the
cure is worse than the disease.” Economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton mocked this as a “pet
theory about the fatal dangers of quarantine.” They concluded in the summer of 2020 that “a
wave of deaths of despair is highly unlikely” because, they said, the duration of a pandemic is
measured in months whereas the underlying causes of drug abuse and suicide take many years to
accumulate (Case and Deaton 2020). Read full Working Paper here.

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