Regional Poverty Worsens Infectious Diseases: Evidence from COVID-19 Pandemic
23 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2020 Last revised: 6 Apr 2021
Date Written: September 25, 2020
This paper examines the role of regional poverty on the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S.A. It also verifies if the effects differ with the concentration of ethnic minorities. We find that poverty is a significant and consistent determinant of higher COVID-19 infections and fatalities. The prevalent poverty areas experienced higher infections due to its economic structures that require hypermobility - more physical human-to-human contacts and experienced higher deaths due to limited access to health services. These are also regions where minority groups are concentrated, and thus, the disproportionate infections and fatalities occurred within the black, Hispanic, and Asian population. Our evidence is robust to state fixed effects that capture local COVID-19 mitigation policies, multi-level hierarchical modeling, and large sets of county-level health, social, and economic factors. This paper contributes to the literature on health and economic disparities and their resulting consequences for infectious diseases.
Keywords: COVID-19, poverty, fixed effects, infections, fatalities
JEL Classification: I30, I14, R12, C31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation