Social Distancing and the COVID-19 Pandemic


Social distancing is a practice in which an individual maintains a greater physical distance from other people. This article discusses the different methods of practicing social distancing. We also examine its effects on income mobility in high-income counties and its impact during the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, we discuss the health implications of social distancing. We conclude that social distancing can benefit a person’s life.

Practice of maintaining a greater than usual physical distance from other people

Social distancing is a social behavior characterized by a person’s tendency to stay at a greater physical distance from other people. People use this technique to minimize the risk of infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes it as the “practice of avoiding direct contact with others, especially in public settings.”

The term “social distancing” can be traced back to as early as the fifth century BC. The word was first used in English in 1831 in a translation of Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne’s memoirs of Napoleon’s friendship. It was also used as a euphuism for “social class” as a way of describing a person’s status in society. In 1919, Emory Bogardus created the Social Distance Scale to measure prejudice. This questionnaire asked people to describe their comfort level with people of different races. Social distance is usually measured at two to three meters.

Methods used to practice social distancing

Social distancing is one way to prevent the spread of illnesses, including the COVID-19. The process of social isolation and quarantine are more extreme, but social distancing is less harmful and requires less personal sacrifice. While some people may find social distancing a welcome change, others find it an uncomfortable inconvenience. Despite the widespread use of social distancing, many public gatherings have been cancelled due to the recommendation to avoid contact with people who are sick.

In both studies, survey respondents reported more social distancing than their male counterparts, with more women reporting more social distancing in the first study than in the second. Female sex and increasing age were both positively and negatively related to social distancing. The survey results suggest that social distancing is common among Michiganders and that state-level executive orders to address the early COVID-19 pandemic may have a positive effect. Despite this, additional support is needed for vulnerable populations.

Effects of social distancing on income mobility in high-income counties

Social distancing policies have negative effects on economic mobility, particularly for low-income workers. These workers rely on cash wages daily and have occupations that require social distance. Moreover, low-income countries tend to have large numbers of informal workers, whose earnings are not recorded in government records. Thus, social insurance policies may not be able to track them down. This may contribute to a large gap between the rich and the poor in these countries.

In a recent study, researchers examined the effect of social distancing policies on labour income inequality. They found that early distancing behaviours tended to be smaller in higher-income counties than in low-income counties. While this may seem counterintuitive, it would be surprising to find that distancing policies increase poverty rates among low-income residents in high-income counties.

Effects of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic

The previous research on social distancing in the context of a pandemic has proven its value, but focused on aggregate levels. Localities that made social distancing efforts had reduced transmission rates. However, the current research investigates the effects of social distancing on an individual level. It assessed participants’ self-reports of social distancing and virtual behavior measures to assess its impact on the spread of COVID-19.

This study compared the effects of different social distancing policies in the US. They compared the daily COVID-19 infection rate by county and examined whether the policies had an impact on spread. Closure of entertainment-related businesses and shelter-in-place orders were found to reduce COVID-19 transmission rates. Furthermore, smartphone GPS data allowed researchers to estimate social distancing at the county level. Social distancing is associated with fewer deaths among individuals with COVID-19.