Americans are paying a fearsome price for the government’s strict lockdowns of American life and commerce, and now comes evidence that targeted lockdowns aimed at protecting those who are most vulnerable to the coronavirus would be better for public health and the economy.

That conclusion comes in a new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research by MIT economists Daron Acemoglu, Victor Chernozhukov, Iván Werning and Michael Whinston. The authors compared relative risks of infection, hospitalization and death for the young, the middle-aged and those over age 65. They then compared strict lockdowns that treat all age groups the same with a more targeted strategy that protects the old.

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