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12 New Studies of Economic Impact
of COVID-19 and Policy Responses

All NBER papers related to COVID-19 are open-access and have been collected for easy reference. View them in reverse chronological order or by topic area.


Research Associate Lisa Kahn of the University of Rochester describes how data tracking real-time job postings suggest an economy-wide decline in labor demand in late March and early April and a relatively weak association between stay-at-home policies and the drop in labor market activity. Watch the video here.

Twelve NBER working papers distributed this week examine the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic along with the actual or potential consequences of public and private actions to combat it.

Several studies investigate the effect of pandemic-related shut-downs and re-openings on the labor market (27431, 27422, 27419) and on older workers in particular (27448). Others consider the role of consumer fear vs. shutdown policies in contributing to the drop of economic activity (27432), the macroeconomic effects of a pandemic in several different modeling frameworks (27430), the pandemic’s impact on state tax revenues (27426), how consumer demand for on-line food shopping responded to the number of reported virus cases (27427), and the potential gains from a spatially-targeted rather than uniform lockdown policy (27441).

With respect to financial markets, studies consider the portfolio adjustments of retirement savers (27438), the potential long-term effects of COVID-19 on risk-taking (27439), and the effect of news about COVID-19 case levels on the yield disparities for eurozone government bonds (27451).

More than 170 NBER working papers issued since mid-March have reported on pandemic-related research.



The NBER Digest

Coronavirus Relief Act Boosts Many Workers’ Incomes
Above What They Earned Before They Were Laid Off




Research featured in the new edition of The NBER Digest shows that, for 68 percent of unemployed American workers, the total of regular unemployment insurance benefits and the $600 a week they are receiving through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act equals or exceeds their pre-pandemic paychecks. Also featured in the July issue of the Digest are studies of early-pandemic job losses, corporate payouts, hospital mergers’ effects on pricing, cross-border investment statistics, and mortality impacts of ride hailing.
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New NBER Research

2 July 2020

Pandemic Effects on US Outpatient Providers

By mid-April 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with about a 67 percent decline in the total number of outpatient visits per provider relative to the same week in prior years, Pinka Chatterji and Yue Li calculate.

1 July 2020

Boll Weevil Shock Narrowed Black-White Inequality

White sons born after the early 20th century boll weevil shock to agriculture had similar wages and schooling outcomes to white sons born prior to the weevil’s arrival, while black sons born after the boll weevil had significantly higher wages and years of schooling, Karen Clay, Ethan J. Schmick, and Werner Troesken find.

30 June 2020

The US Labor Market during Onset of the Pandemic

American workers in the bottom quintile of the wage distribution experienced a 35 percent employment decline between mid-February and mid-April while those in the top quintile experienced only a 9 percent decline, according to research by Tomaz Cajner, Leland D. Crane, Ryan A. Decker, John Grigsby, Adrian Hamins-Puertolas, Erik Hurst, Christopher Kurz, and Ahu Yildirmaz.
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2020 NBER Virtual Summer Institute

The NBER Summer Institute is a collection more than 50 distinct research meetings, on a wide range of topics, taking place between July 6 and July 25. Most meetings are being live-streamed on the NBER YouTube channel. The schedule of meetings may be found here. The live-stream URLs are assigned each day by YouTube, and they will be posted as soon as they are available here.


Bulletin on Health

What Can We Learn About COVID-19 Infection Rates
and Infection Fatality Rates Without Randomized Testing?




The summer issue of the Bulletin on Health features two studies that introduce methods for using currently available information to better understand COVID-19 infection rates and the implied infection fatality rates. One paper generates upper and lower bounds on the rates of COVID-19 infection under minimal assumptions, and finds that these bounds are necessarily wide, due to the small proportion of the population that has been tested. The second paper leverages additional assumptions and data, such as travel patterns from the virus epicenters, to infer infection rates. Although the studies take different approaches, they both indicate that infection fatality rates are considerably lower than the fatality rates among confirmed COVID-19 cases. Also featured in this issue of the free Bulletin on Health are a study of the long-term impacts of OxyContin’s reformulation on fatal drug overdoses, a study of the role of Medicaid coverage in reducing infant mortality during flu pandemics, and a profile of NBER research associate Doug Almond.
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The NBER Reporter

Examining Approaches to Rehabilitating Criminals,
Questioning the Widespread Idea that ‘Nothing Works’




Following an influential report on prisoner rehabilitation programs that concluded that "nothing works" in the United States rose sharply, ensuing policy discussions gradually led to rehabilitation programs being subordinated to policies emphasizing punishment and incapacitation. Research into the Norwegian prison system, featured in the current edition of the NBER Reporter, challenges that approach. Also in this issue of the free quarterly Reporter, NBER affiliates write about investigations into barriers to take-up of government initiatives, the impact of rare events on financial markets, the impact of land systems and misallocation on agricultural productivity, and the role of the firm in explaining the structure and evolution of wages and worker risk .
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Bulletin on Retirement and Disability

The Effects of Sick Pay Mandates




Fewer than half of low-income and part-time workers have access to paid [sick?] leave. In the absence of federal action, numerous states and localities have enacted sick pay mandates. A study summarized in the current issue of the Bulletin on Retirement and Disability finds that following the introduction of a mandate, coverage rises by 13 percentage points, from an initial level of 66 percent overall. Also in this issue: a summary of how student loan forgiveness affects disability insurance applications, a study of how bill timing affects low-income and aged households, and a feature on the NBER Retirement and Disability Research Center’s Training Fellowship program.
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