Mass gatherings contributed to early COVID-19 mortality: Evidence from US sports

Alexander Ahammer, Martin Halla, Mario Lackner

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


Social distancing is important to slow the community spread of infectious disease, but it creates enormous economic and social cost. Thus, it is important to quantify the benefits of different measures. We study the ban of mass gatherings, an intervention with comparably low cost. We exploit exogenous variation in the number of National Basketball Association and National Hockey League games, which arises due to the leagues' predetermined schedules, and the sudden suspension of the 2019–2020 seasons. We find that, among clusters of counties that are adjacent to sports venues, each additional mass gathering increased the cumulative number of COVID-19 deaths by 10.3%.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)471-488
JournalContemporary Economic Policy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • coronavirus disease 2019
  • COVID‐19
  • massg atherings
  • social distancing

Cite this