Some Workers Have Been Hit Much Harder than Others by the Pandemic
As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the United States, in just two months—between February and April 2020—the nation saw well over 20 million workers lose their jobs, an unprecedented 15 percent decline. Since then, substantial progress has been made, but employment still remains 5 percent below its pre-pandemic level. However, not all workers have been affected equally. This post is the first in a three-part series exploring disparities in labor market outcomes during the pandemic—and represents an extension of ongoing research into heterogeneities and inequalities in people’s ...
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 Evolution of Health over the Life Cycle
We construct a unified objective measure of health status: the frailty index, defined as the cumulative sum of all adverse health indicators observed for an individual. First, we show that the frailty index has several advantages over self-reported health status, particularly when studying health dynamics. Then we estimate a stochastic process for frailty dynamics over the life cycle. We find that the autocovariance structure of frailty in panel data strongly supports a process that allows the conditional variance of frailty shocks to increase with age. Our frailty measure and dynamic process ...
Indian Residential Schools, Height, and Body Mass Post-1930
We study the effects of Canadian Indian residential schooling on two anthropometric measures of health during childhood: adult height and body weight. We use repeated cross sectional data from the 1991 and 2001 Aboriginal Peoples Survey and leverage detailed historical data on school closures and location to make causal inferences. We ?nd evidence that, on average, residential schooling increases adult height and the likelihood of a healthy adult body weight for those who attended. These effects are concentrated after the 1950s when the schools were subject to tighter health regulations and ...
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.
Who Gets Medication-assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder, and Does It Reduce Overdose Risk? Evidence from the Rhode Island All-payer Claims Database
This paper uses the all-payer claims database (APCD) for Rhode Island to study three questions about the use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder (OUD): (1) Does MAT reduce the risk of opioid overdose; (2) are there systematic differences in the uptake of MAT by observable patient-level characteristics; and (3) how successful were federal policy changes implemented in 2016 that sought to promote increased use of buprenorphine, one of three medication options within MAT? Regarding the first question, we find that MAT as practiced in Rhode Island is associated with a ...
Information and Inequality in the Time of a Pandemic
We introduce two types of agent heterogeneity in a calibrated epidemiological search model. First, some agents cannot afford to stay home to minimize virus exposure. Our results show that poor agents bear most of the epidemic’s health costs. Furthermore, we show that when a larger share of agents fail to change their behavior during the epidemic, a deeper recession is possible. Second, agents develop symptoms heterogeneously. We show that for diseases with a higher share of asymptomatic cases, even when less lethal, health and economic outcomes are worse. Public policies such as testing, ...
Understanding the Racial and Income Gap in COVID-19: Public Transportation and Home Crowding
This is the second post in a series that aims to understand the gap in COVID-19 intensity by race and income. In our first post, we looked at how comorbidities, uninsurance rates, and health resources may help to explain the race and income gap observed in COVID-19 intensity. We found that a quarter of the income gap and more than a third of the racial gap in case rates are explained by health status and system factors. In this post, we look at two factors related to indoor density—namely public transportation use and home crowding. Here, we will aim to understand whether these two factors ...