April 2020

IZA DP No. 13137: Explaining Governors' Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic in the United States

What is the response of US governors to the COVID-19 pandemic? In this research note, we explore the determinants of implementing stay-at-home orders, focusing on governors' characteristics. In our most conservative estimate, being a Democratic governor increases the probability of implementing a stay-at-home order by more than 50 percent. Moreover, we find that the probability of implementing a statewide stay-at-home order is about 40 percent more likely for governors without a term limit than governors with a term limit. We also find that Democratic governors and governors without a term limit are significantly faster to adopt statewide orders than Republican governors and governors with a term limit. There is evidence of politics as usual in these unusual times.