Covid-19: Testing Inequality in New York City

16 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2020 Last revised: 30 Apr 2023

See all articles by Stephanie Schmitt-Grohé

Stephanie Schmitt-Grohé

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Ken Teoh

International Monetary Fund (IMF) - Research Department

Martín Uribe

Columbia University - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Date Written: April 2020

Abstract

Motivated by reports in the media suggesting unequal access to Covid-19 testing across incomes, we analyze zip-code level data on the number of Covid-19 tests, test results, and income per capita in New York City. We find that the number of tests administered is evenly distributed across income levels. In particular, the test distribution across income levels is significantly more egalitarian than the distribution of income itself: The ten percent of the city's population living in the richest zip codes received 11 percent of the Covid-19 tests and 29 percent of the city's income. The ten percent of the city's population living in the poorest zip codes received 10 percent of the tests but only 4 percent of the city's income. At the same time, we find significant disparity in the fraction of tests that come back negative for the Covid-19 disease across income levels: moving from the poorest zip codes to the richest zip codes is associated with an increase in the fraction of negative Covid-19 test results from 38 to 65 percent.

Suggested Citation

Schmitt-Grohe, Stephanie and Teoh, Ken and Uribe, Martin, Covid-19: Testing Inequality in New York City (April 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w27019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3580577

Stephanie Schmitt-Grohe (Contact Author)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Ken Teoh

International Monetary Fund (IMF) - Research Department ( email )

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Martin Uribe

Columbia University - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences - Department of Economics ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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