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Coronavirus Infections and Deaths by Poverty Status: The Effects of Social Distancing

Author

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  • Juergen Jung

    (Department of Economics, Towson University)

  • James Manley

    (Department of Economics, Towson University)

  • Vinish Shrestha

    (Department of Economics, Towson University)

Abstract

We study the spread of COVID-19 infections and deaths by county poverty level in the US. In the beginning of the pandemic, counties with either very low poverty levels or very high poverty levels reported the highest numbers of cases. A U-shaped relationship prevails for counties with high population density while among counties with low population density, only poorer counties report high incidence rates of COVID-19. Second, we discuss the pattern of infections spreading from higher to lower income counties. Third, we show that stay-at-home mandates caused significantly higher reductions in mobility in high income counties that experienced adverse weather shocks than counties that did not. These effects are not present in counties with high poverty rates. Using weather shocks in combination with stay-at-home mandates as an instrument for social distancing, we find that measures taken to promote social distancing helped curb infections in high income counties but not in low income counties. These results have important policy implications for containing the spread of infectious diseases in the future.

Suggested Citation

  • Juergen Jung & James Manley & Vinish Shrestha, 2020. "Coronavirus Infections and Deaths by Poverty Status: The Effects of Social Distancing," Working Papers 2020-03, Towson University, Department of Economics, revised Dec 2020.
  • Handle: RePEc:tow:wpaper:2020-03
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. James Davies, 2021. "Economic Inequality and Covid-19 Death Rates in the First Wave, a Cross-Country Analysis," CESifo Working Paper Series 8957, CESifo.
    2. David E. Bloom & Michael Kuhn & Klaus Prettner, 2020. "Modern Infectious Diseases: Macroeconomic Impacts and Policy Responses," NBER Working Papers 27757, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Coronavirus; pandemic; SARS-CoV-2; COVID-19; heterogeneous health effects; infections by poverty status; death rates by poverty status.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty

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