Economic Impacts of China’s Zero-COVID Policies


This paper presents an investigation of the economic consequences of the zero-COVID policy implemented by the Chinese government as a pilot experiment in using big data for country management from 2020 to 2022. Our study includes an original county-daily panel data set on the COVID-19 Risk Level issued by the State Council of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). To measure economic activities, we used satellite data on night lights and PM2.5, and geographical data on population mobility. Our findings indicate that the zero-COVID policy did not result in significant economic loss in 2021. However, in 2022, when the Omicron variant emerged, a stricter zero-COVID policy led to a 30% decline in mobility, a 1.17% decrease in PM2.5 and a 7.7% reduction in night lights. Based on our calculations, China experienced a 3.9% loss in GDP as a consequence of the implementation of the zero-COVID policy in 2022.

Revised & Resubmitted at China Economic Review
Andong Yan
Andong Yan
PhD Candidate in Economics