Housing Precarity & the Covid-19 Pandemic: Impacts of Utility Disconnection and Eviction Moratoria on Infections and Deaths Across Us Counties

24 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2021 Last revised: 20 Jul 2021

See all articles by Kay Jowers

Kay Jowers

Sociology Department, University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill; Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University

Christopher Timmins

Duke University - Department of Economics

Nrupen Bhavsar

Duke University

Qihui Hu

Duke University

Julia Marshall

Duke University

Date Written: January 2021

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated the adoption of a number of policies that aim to reduce the spread of the disease by promoting housing stability. Housing precarity, which includes both the risk of eviction and utility disconnections or shut-offs, reduces a person’s ability to abide by social distancing orders and comply with hygiene recommendations. Our analysis quantifies the impact of these various economic policies on COVID-19 infection and death rates using panel regression techniques to control for a variety of potential confounders. We find that policies that limit evictions are found to reduce COVID-19 infections by 3.8% and reduce deaths by 11%. Moratoria on utility disconnections reduce COVID-19 infections by 4.4% and mortality rates by 7.4%. Had such policies been in place across all counties (i.e., adopted as federal policy) from early March 2020 through the end of November 2020, our estimated counterfactuals show that policies that limit evictions could have reduced COVID-19 infections by 14.2% and deaths by 40.7%. For moratoria on utility disconnections, COVID-19 infections rates could have been reduced by 8.7% and deaths by 14.8%. Housing precarity policies that prevent eviction and utility disconnections have been effective mechanisms for decreasing both COVID-19 infections and deaths.

Suggested Citation

Jowers, Kay and Timmins, Christopher D. and Bhavsar, Nrupen and Hu, Qihui and Marshall, Julia, Housing Precarity & the Covid-19 Pandemic: Impacts of Utility Disconnection and Eviction Moratoria on Infections and Deaths Across Us Counties (January 2021). NBER Working Paper No. w28394, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3772641

Kay Jowers (Contact Author)

Sociology Department, University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill ( email )

102 Ridge Road
Chapel Hill, NC NC 27514
United States

Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University ( email )

2117 Campus Drive
Durham, NC 27708
United States

Christopher D. Timmins

Duke University - Department of Economics ( email )

213 Social Sciences Building
Box 90097
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States
919-660-1809 (Phone)
919-684-8974 (Fax)

Nrupen Bhavsar

Duke University

100 Fuqua Drive
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

Qihui Hu

Duke University

100 Fuqua Drive
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

Julia Marshall

Duke University

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