IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

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


  • R. Jason Faberman
  • Daniel Hartley


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

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: full text
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Simon Mongey & Laura Pilossoph & Alexander Weinberg, 2021. "Which workers bear the burden of social distancing?," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 19(3), pages 509-526, September.
    2. Edward L. Glaeser & Caitlin S. Gorback & Stephen J. Redding, 2020. "How Much Does COVID-19 Increase with Mobility? Evidence from New York and Four Other U.S. Cities," Working Papers 2020-22, Princeton University. Economics Department..
    3. Joseph Benitez & Charles Courtemanche & Aaron Yelowitz, 2020. "Racial and Ethnic Disparities in COVID-19: Evidence from Six Large Cities," Journal of Economics, Race, and Policy, Springer, vol. 3(4), pages 243-261, December.
    4. Erik Brynjolfsson & John J. Horton & Adam Ozimek & Daniel Rock & Garima Sharma & Hong-Yi TuYe, 2020. "COVID-19 and Remote Work: An Early Look at US Data," NBER Working Papers 27344, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Nicholas W. Papageorge & Matthew V. Zahn & Michèle Belot & Eline Broek-Altenburg & Syngjoo Choi & Julian C. Jamison & Egon Tripodi, 2021. "Socio-demographic factors associated with self-protecting behavior during the Covid-19 pandemic," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 34(2), pages 691-738, April.
    6. McLaren John, 2021. "Racial Disparity in COVID-19 Deaths: Seeking Economic Roots with Census Data," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 21(3), pages 897-919, July.
    7. Christopher R. Knittel & Bora Ozaltun, 2020. "What Does and Does Not Correlate with COVID-19 Death Rates," NBER Working Papers 27391, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Alexander W. Bartik & Zoe B. Cullen & Edward L. Glaeser & Michael Luca & Christopher T. Stanton, 2020. "What Jobs are Being Done at Home During the Covid-19 Crisis? Evidence from Firm-Level Surveys," NBER Working Papers 27422, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Caitlin S. Brown & Martin Ravallion, 2020. "Inequality and the Coronavirus: Socioeconomic Covariates of Behavioral Responses and Viral Outcomes Across US Counties," NBER Working Papers 27549, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Brandily, Paul & Brébion, Clément & Briole, Simon & Khoury, Laura, 2021. "A poorly understood disease? The impact of COVID-19 on the income gradient in mortality over the course of the pandemic," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 140(C).
    2. Abel Brodeur & David Gray & Anik Islam & Suraiya Bhuiyan, 2021. "A literature review of the economics of COVID‐19," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(4), pages 1007-1044, September.
    3. Aditya Goenka & Lin Liu & Manh-Hung Nguyen, 2021. "Modeling optimal quarantines with waning immunity," Discussion Papers 21-10, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
    4. Paul Brandily & Clément Brébion & Simon Briole & Laura Khoury, 2021. "A Poorly Understood Disease? The Evolution of the Income Gradient in Excess Mortality Due to COVID-19 within Urban Areas," Working Papers halshs-03154551, HAL.
    5. André Decoster & Thomas Minten & Johannes Spinnewijn, 2021. "The Income Gradient in Mortality during the Covid-19 Crisis: Evidence from Belgium," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 19(3), pages 551-570, September.
    6. Aditya Goenka & Lin Liu & Manh-Hung Nguyen, 2020. "Modeling optimal quarantines under infectious disease related mortality," Working Papers 202025, University of Liverpool, Department of Economics.
    7. de Palma, André & Vosough, Shaghayegh & Liao, Feixiong, 2022. "An overview of effects of COVID-19 on mobility and lifestyle: 18 months since the outbreak," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 159(C), pages 372-397.
    8. Barrero, Jose Maria & Bloom, Nick & Davis, Steven J., 2020. "Why Working From Home Will Stick," SocArXiv wfdbe, Center for Open Science.
    9. Nicholas Bloom & Philip Bunn & Paul Mizen & Pawel Smietanka & Gregory Thwaites, 2020. "The Impact of Covid-19 on Productivity," NBER Working Papers 28233, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Julia Darby & Stuart McIntyre & Graeme Roy, 2022. "What can analysis of 47 million job advertisements tell us about how opportunities for homeworking are evolving in the United Kingdom?," Industrial Relations Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(4), pages 281-302, July.
    11. Christian Kagerl & Julia Starzetz, 2023. "Working from home for good? Lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and what this means for the future of work," Journal of Business Economics, Springer, vol. 93(1), pages 229-265, January.
    12. Hansen, Stephen & Lambert, Peter John & Bloom, Nicholas & Davis, Steven J. & Sadun, Raffaella & Taska, Bledi, 2023. "Remote Work across Jobs, Companies, and Space," IZA Discussion Papers 15980, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. Sumedha Gupta & Kosali I. Simon & Coady Wing, 2020. "Mandated and Voluntary Social Distancing During The COVID-19 Epidemic: A Review," NBER Working Papers 28139, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Mauro Caselli & Andrea Fracasso & Sergio Scicchitano, 2022. "From the lockdown to the new normal: individual mobility and local labor market characteristics following the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 35(4), pages 1517-1550, October.
    15. Johannes S. Kunz & Carol Propper, 2022. "Is Hospital Quality Predictive of Pandemic Deaths? Evidence from US Counties," Papers 2022-01, Centre for Health Economics, Monash University.
    16. Ruchi Avtar & Rajashri Chakrabarti & Lindsay Meyerson & William Nober & Maxim L. Pinkovskiy, 2020. "The Affordable Care Act and the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Regression Discontinuity Analysis," Staff Reports 948, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    17. Ali Zarifhonarvar, 2023. "A Survey on the Impact of Covid-19 on the Labor Market," The Journal of Social Sciences Research, Academic Research Publishing Group, vol. 9(1), pages 1-10, 03-2023.
    18. Hevia, Constantino & Macera, Manuel & Neumeyer, Pablo Andrés, 2022. "Covid-19 in unequal societies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 140(C).
    19. Ainaa, Carmen & Brunetti, Irene & Mussida, Chiara & Scicchitano, Sergio, 2021. "Who lost the most? Distributive effects of COVID-19 pandemic," GLO Discussion Paper Series 829, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    20. Howard, Greg & Liebersohn, Jack & Ozimek, Adam, 2023. "The short- and long-run effects of remote work on U.S. housing markets," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 150(1), pages 166-184.

    More about this item


    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)

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:92697. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Lauren Wiese (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.