How Stable Is China’s Growth? Shedding Light on Sparse Data
Policymakers, academics, and market participants have raised many questions in recent years over the accuracy of China’s official economic growth rates, both in terms of levels and volatility. This issue is of considerable importance for policymakers because fluctuations in China’s economic activity can have significant impacts on growth, employment, inflation, and other policy objectives, given China’s large shares of world output, trade, and commodity demand, and its rapidly growing role in global financial markets. This study addresses the question of growth volatility using a set of ...
Did State Reopenings Increase Consumer Spending?
The spread of COVID-19 in the United States has had a profound impact on economic activity. Beginning in March, most states imposed severe restrictions on households and businesses to slow the spread of the virus. This was followed by a gradual loosening of restrictions (“reopening”) starting in April. As the virus has re-emerged, a number of states have taken steps to reverse the reopening of their economies. For example, Texas and Florida closed bars again in June, and Arizona additionally paused operations of gyms and movie theatres. Taken together, these measures raise the question of ...
Understanding the Racial and Income Gap in Covid-19: Health Insurance, Comorbidities, and Medical Facilities
Our previous work documents that low-income and majority-minority areas were considerably more affected by COVID-19, as captured by markedly higher case and death rates. In a four-part series starting with this post, we seek to understand the reasons behind these income and racial disparities. Do disparities in health status translate into disparities in COVID-19 intensity? Does the health system play a role through health insurance and hospital capacity? Can disparities in COVID-19 intensity be explained by high-density, crowded environments? Does social distancing, pollution, or the age ...
Medicare and Financial Health across the United States
Consumer financial strain varies enormously across the United States. One pernicious source of financial strain is debt in collections—debt that is more than 120 days past due and that has been sold to a collections agency. In Massachusetts, the average person has less than $100 in collections debt, while in Texas, the average person has more than $300. In this post, we discuss our recent staff report that exploits the fact that virtually all Americans are universally covered by Medicare at 65 to show that health insurance not only improves financial health on average, but also is a major ...
The Affordable Care Act and For-Profit Colleges
Getting health insurance in America is intimately connected to choosing whether and where to work. Therefore, it should not be surprising that the U.S. health insurance market may influence, and be influenced by, the market for higher education—which itself is closely tied to the labor market. In this post, and the staff report it is based on, we investigate the effects of the largest overhaul of health insurance in the United States in recent decades—the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) -- on college enrollment choices.
Lights, camera,...income! Estimating poverty using national accounts, survey means, and lights
In this paper, we try to understand whether measures of GDP per capita taken from national accounts or measures of mean income or consumption derived from household surveys better proxy for true income per capita. We propose a data-driven method to assess the relative quality of GDP per capita versus survey means by comparing the evolution of each series to the evolution of satellite-recorded nighttime lights. Our main assumption, which is robust to a variety of specification checks, is that the measurement error in nighttime lights is unrelated to the measurement errors in either national ...
A Discussion of Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century: By How Much Is r Greater than g?
Thomas Piketty?s 2014 book Capital in the Twenty-First Century may have been a greater sensation upon publication than Karl Marx?s nineteenth-century Das Kapital. It made the New York Times bestseller list, generated myriad reviews and responses from economists at top institutions, and was the subject of a standing-room-only session at the recent American Economic Association annual meeting. In Capital, Piketty argues that wealth inequality is set to rise from its relatively low levels in the 1950s through the 1970s to the very high levels it once occupied at the dawn of the Industrial ...
Understanding the Racial and Income Gap in COVID-19: Essential Workers
This is the fourth and final post in this series aimed at understanding the gap in COVID-19 intensity by race and by income. The previous three posts focused on the role of mediating variables—such as uninsurance rates, comorbidities, and health resource in the first post; public transportation, and home crowding in the second; and social distancing, pollution, and age composition in the third—in explaining the racial and income gap in the incidence of COVID-19. In this post, we now investigate the role of employment in essential services in explaining this gap.
Are Financially Distressed Areas More Affected by COVID-19?
Building upon our earlier Liberty Street Economics post, we continue to analyze the heterogeneity of COVID-19 incidence. We previously found that majority-minority areas, low-income areas, and areas with higher population density were more affected by COVID-19. The objective of this post is to understand any differences in COVID-19 incidence by areas of financial vulnerability. Are areas that are more financially distressed affected by COVID-19 to a greater extent than other areas? If so, this would not only further adversely affect the financial well-being of the individuals in these areas, ...
Do Expansions in Health Insurance Affect Student Loan Outcomes?
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is arguably the biggest policy intervention in health insurance in the United States since the passage of Medicaid and Medicare in 1965. The Act was signed into law in March 2010, and by 2016 approximately 20 to 24 million additional Americans were covered with health insurance. Such an extension of insurance coverage could affect not only medical bills, but also educational, employment, and broader financial outcomes. In this post, we take an initial look at the relationship between the ACA and higher education financing choices and ...