Racial Disparities in Frontline Workers and Housing Crowding During COVID-19: Evidence from Geolocation Data
35 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2020 Last revised: 26 Feb 2021
Date Written: September 22, 2020
We document that racial disparities in COVID-19 in New York City stem from patterns of commuting and housing crowding. During the initial wave of the pandemic, out- of-home activity related to commuting is strongly associated with COVID-19 cases at the ZIP Code level and hospitalization at an individual level. After layoffs of essential workers decreased commuting, case growth continued through household crowding. A larger share of individuals in crowded housing or commuting to essential work are Black, Hispanic, and lower-income. As a result, structural inequalities, rather than population density, help determine the cross-section of COVID-19 risk exposure in urban areas.
Keywords: racial disparities, coronavirus, housing crowding, mobility
JEL Classification: I14, J15, R23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation