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The Relationship Between Race, Type of Work, and Covid-19 Infection Rates

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  • R. Jason Faberman
  • Daniel Hartley

Abstract

This paper explores the relationship between Covid-19 infection rates, race, and type of work. We focus on three U.S. cities—Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia—allowing us to exploit zip code-level variation in infection rates and testing rates over time, while controlling for a variety of neighborhood demographic characteristics. We find that neighborhoods with higher Black and Hispanic population shares, and neighborhoods with higher shares of workers in high-social contact jobs within essential businesses, had disproportionately higher Covid-19 infection rates, even after applying our testing and demographic controls. These higher rates coincide with citywide peak infection rates, suggesting an amplified response for these groups. Local variation in type of work accounts for relatively little of the variation in infection rates by race. Additional evidence for Arizona, Florida, and Texas also shows amplified infection rates for these groups around statewide peak infection rates, despite their peaks occurring months after the cities in our main sample. Evidence from these states also shows higher infection rates among high-social contact workers in nonessential businesses that coincides with a more aggressive reopening of these businesses.

Suggested Citation

  • R. Jason Faberman & Daniel Hartley, 2020. "The Relationship Between Race, Type of Work, and Covid-19 Infection Rates," Working Paper Series WP2020-18, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:92697
    DOI: 10.21033/wp-2020-18
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    COVID-19; infection rates; race; employment; social interaction;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H12 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Crisis Management
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)

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