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

Towson University, Department of Economics Working Paper Series, Working Paper No. 2020-03

47 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2020 Last revised: 15 Dec 2020

See all articles by Juergen Jung

Juergen Jung

Towson University - Department of Economics

James Manley

Towson University - Department of Economics

Vinish Shrestha

Emory University

Date Written: June 9, 2020

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.

Note: Funding: The study was not supported by any funding source.

Conflict of Interest: The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Keywords: coronavirus, pandemic, SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19, heterogeneous health effects, infections by poverty status, death rates by poverty status

JEL Classification: I14, I18, I32

Suggested Citation

Jung, Juergen and Manley, James and Shrestha, Vinish, Coronavirus Infections and Deaths by Poverty Status: The Effects of Social Distancing (June 9, 2020). Towson University, Department of Economics Working Paper Series, Working Paper No. 2020-03, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3623430 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3623430

Juergen Jung

Towson University - Department of Economics ( email )

Baltimore, MD
United States
812-345-9182 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://juejung.github.io/

James Manley

Towson University - Department of Economics ( email )

Towson, MD 21204
United States

Vinish Shrestha (Contact Author)

Emory University ( email )

1602 Fishburne Drive
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
404-502-7510 (Phone)

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