Does U.S. Health Inequality Reflect Income Inequality—or Something Else?
Health is an integral part of well-being. The United Nations Human Development Index uses life expectancy (together with GDP per capita and literacy) as one of three key indicators of human welfare across the world. In this post, I discuss the state of life expectancy inequality in the United States and examine some of the underlying factors in its evolution over the past several decades.
Coronavirus Outbreak Sends Consumer Expectations Plummeting
The New York Fed’s Center for Microeconomic Data released results today from its March 2020 Survey of Consumer Expectations (SCE), which provides information on consumers' economic expectations and behavior. In particular, the survey covers respondents’ views on how income, spending, inflation, credit access, and housing and labor market conditions will evolve over time. The March survey, which was fielded between March 2 and 31, records a substantial deterioration in financial and economic expectations, including sharp declines in household income and spending growth expectations. As ...
Disparities and Mitigation Behavior during COVID-19
This paper uses a unique large-scale survey administered in April 2020 to assess disparities on several dimensions of wellbeing under rising COVID-19 infections and mitigation restrictions in the US. The survey includes three modules designed to assess different dimensions of well-being in parallel: physical health, mental and social health, and economic and financial security. The survey is unique among early COVID-19 data efforts in that provides insight on diverse dimensions of wellbeing and for subnational geographies. I find dramatic declines in wellbeing from pre-COVID baseline measures ...
Responding to COVID-19: A Note
We consider several epidemiological simulations of the COVID-19 pandemic using the textbook SIR model and discuss the basic implications of these results for crafting an adequate response to the ensuing economic crisis. Our simulations are meant to be illustrative of the ﬁndings reported in the epidemiological literature using more sophisticated models (e.g., Ferguson et al. (2020)). The key observation we stress is that moderating the epidemiological response of social distancing according to the models may come at a steep price of extending the duration of the pandemic and hence the time ...
Intergenerational Health Mobility in the US
Studies of intergenerational mobility have largely ignored health despite the central importance of health to welfare. We present the first estimates of intergenerational health mobility in the US by using repeated measures of self-reported health status (SRH) during adulthood from the PSID. Our main finding is that there is substantially greater health mobility than income mobility in the US. A possible explanation is that social institutions and policies are more effective at disrupting intergenerational health transmission than income transmission. We further show that health and income ...
The impact of medical and nursing home expenses and social insurance
We consider a life-cycle model with idiosyncratic risk in earnings, out-of-pocket medical and nursing home expenses, and survival. Partial insurance is available through welfare, Medicaid, and social security. Calibrating the model to the United States, we show that (1) savings for old-age, out-of-pocket expenses account for 13.5 percent of aggregate wealth, half of which is due to nursing home expenses; (2) cross-sectional out-of-pocket nursing home risk accounts for 3 percent of aggregate wealth and substantially slows down wealth decumulation at older ages; (3) the impact of medical and ...
Killer Debt: The Impact of Debt on Mortality
This study analyzes the effect of individual finances (specifically creditworthiness and severely delinquent debt) on mortality risk. A large (approximately 170,000 individuals) subsample of a quarterly panel data set of individual credit reports is utilized in an instrumental variables design. The possibility of the reverse causality of bad health causing debt and death is removed by instrumenting for individual finances post 2011 using the exposure to the housing crisis based on their 2005 residence. Worsening creditworthiness and increases in severely delinquent debt are found to lead to ...
Impacts of COVID-19: Mitigation Efforts versus Herd Immunity
The rapid spread of COVID-19 is having devastating effects on the global economy. With death curves beginning to bend, governments will soon need to determine when and how to relax lockdown measures. The crucial question is: what are the public health consequences of reopening the economy? In this article, we argue that the observed decline in daily deaths could be due to two scenarios: social distancing measures and herd immunity. Both the widely used SIR model and the data collected thus far cannot distinguish these two scenarios. Such an identiﬁcation problem generates a large degree of ...
Germs, Social Networks, and Growth
Does the pattern of social connections between individuals matter for macroeconomic outcomes? If so, where do these differences come from and how large are their effects? Using network analysis tools, we explore how different social network structures affect technology diffusion and thereby a country's rate of growth. The correlation between high-diffusion networks and income is strongly positive. But when we use a model to isolate the effect of a change in social networks, the effect can be positive, negative, or zero. The reason is that networks diffuse ideas and disease. Low-diffusion ...
The Affordable Care Act and the market for higher education
Through changing the connection between insurance and employment, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has affected people's incentives to obtain education. We employ a triple-difference strategy comparing counties with different levels of uninsurance pre-ACA and in states with different Medicaid expansion decisions across time to investigate changes in enrollment in different types of higher education institutions. We find that enrollment in less-than-two-year for-profit colleges increased more between high- and low-uninsurance counties in states that expanded Medicaid relative to states that did ...