Scandinavian Working Papers in Business Administration

SSE Working Paper Series in Business Administration,
Stockholm School of Economics

No 2020:1: Private Sector Data for Understanding Public Behaviors in Crisis: The Case of COVID-19 in Sweden

Erik Wetter (), Sara Rosengren () and Fredrik Törn ()
Additional contact information
Erik Wetter: Department of Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Technology, Postal: Stockholm School of Economics, P.O. Box 6501, SE-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden
Sara Rosengren: Marketing and Strategy, Postal: Stockholm School of Economics, P.O. Box 6501, SE-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden
Fredrik Törn: Coop Sverige, Postal: Coop Sverige, Box 1340, 171 22 Solna

Abstract: The novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and the associated Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has in early 2020 rapidly spread to become one of the biggest global public health crises in a century, with global economic impacts and supply chain shocks never before seen in modern history. Most countries have responded with drastic measures, and at the time of writing this 3.9 billion people – half the world ́s population – are under lockdown or government-imposed mobility restrictions. Sweden can be seen as a case of special interest as unlike most other EU countries, Sweden has not ordered a lockdown, instead following a soft approach, issuing recommendations and calling for citizens to ‘take responsibility’ and to follow government guidelines. While global policies and interventions differ, most policymakers struggle with a lack of timely indicators, specifically with regards to public responses and behaviors. Here we describe a new project in which we combine data and insights from private sector partners in retail and telecom to provide new insights in public behavioral dynamics with a specific focus on mobility, consumption, and hoarding behaviors e.g. bulk buying. In doing so, we highlight the value that private companies can provide in terms of high-resolution insights into public behaviors and responses to government guidelines during crisis. Specifically, for infectious diseases such as COVID- 19, we can see that private sector data can provide timely and disaggregated insights on different segments of the public, specifically such age groups designated as high-risk and thus considered more vulnerable. This working paper will be continuously updated as new insights are produced in order to provide relevant insights that can hopefully assist in supporting more facts-based decision making for the public good.

Keywords: COVID-19; retail data; telecom data; behavior

JEL-codes: A00

14 pages, First version: April 9, 2020. Revised: April 14, 2020. Earlier revisions: April 9, 2020, April 9, 2020.

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