Risk Aversion, Offsetting Community Effects, and Covid-19: Evidence from an Indoor Political Rally

67 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2020 Last revised: 29 Jul 2020

See all articles by Dhaval Dave

Dhaval Dave

Bentley University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) - NY Office

Andrew Friedson

University of Colorado at Denver - Department of Economics

Kyutaro Matsuzawa

San Diego State University

Drew McNichols

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Connor Redpath

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Joseph Sabia

San Diego State University - Department of Economics

Date Written: July 2020

Abstract

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) deems large indoor gatherings without social distancing the “highest risk” activity for COVID-19 contagion. On June 20, 2020, President Donald J. Trump held his first mass campaign rally following the US coronavirus outbreak at the indoor Bank of Oklahoma (BOK) arena. In the weeks following the event, numerous high-profile national news outlets reported that the Trump rally was “more than likely” the cause of a coronavirus surge in Tulsa county based on time series data. This study is the first to rigorously explore the impacts of this event on social distancing and COVID-19 spread. First, using data from SafeGraph Inc, we show that while non-resident visits to census block groups hosting the Trump event grew by approximately 25 percent, there was no decline in net stay-at-home behavior in Tulsa county, reflecting important offsetting behavioral effects. Then, using data on COVID-19 cases and deaths from the CDC and a synthetic control design, we find little evidence that COVID-19 grew more rapidly in Tulsa County, its border counties, or in the state of Oklahoma than each’s estimated counterfactual during the five-week post-treatment period we observe. Difference-in-differences estimates further provide no evidence that COVID-19 rates grew faster in counties that drew relatively larger shares of residents to the event. We conclude that offsetting risk-related behavioral responses to the rally — including voluntary closures of restaurants and bars in downtown Tulsa, increases in stay-at-home behavior, displacement of usual activities of weekend inflows, and smaller-than-expected crowd attendance — may be important mechanisms.

Suggested Citation

Dave, Dhaval and Friedson, Andrew and Matsuzawa, Kyutaro and McNichols, Drew and Redpath, Connor and Sabia, Joseph, Risk Aversion, Offsetting Community Effects, and Covid-19: Evidence from an Indoor Political Rally (July 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w27522, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3649886

Dhaval Dave (Contact Author)

Bentley University - Department of Economics ( email )

175 Forest Street
Waltham, MA 02452-4705
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) - NY Office

365 Fifth Avenue, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10016-4309
United States

Andrew Friedson

University of Colorado at Denver - Department of Economics ( email )

Campus Box 181
P.O. Box 173364
Denver, CO 80217-3364
United States

Kyutaro Matsuzawa

San Diego State University ( email )

San Diego, CA 92182-0763
United States

Drew McNichols

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
La Jolla, CA 92093-0112
United States
5415564953 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.drewmcnichols.com/

Connor Redpath

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Joseph Sabia

San Diego State University - Department of Economics ( email )

5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182
United States

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