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Pandemic Risk Perceptions and Protective Behavior
Behavioral responses to the risk of being infected with COVID-19 as a result of social contact are key determinants of both pandemic dynamics and associated economic outcomes. Government shut-downs prevented some types of interaction during parts of 2020 and 2021, but voluntary individual decisions to avoid shopping, public transit, and other usual functions also played an important part. In a new study (28741), NBER affiliates Kate Bundorf of Duke University and Grant Miller and Maria Polyakova of Stanford University, along with Jill Dematteis and Jonathan Wivagg of Westat and Jialu Streeter of Stanford University, survey individuals to learn their beliefs about the risk of contracting COVID-19 while engaged in various activities and how they responded to these perceived risks. Bundorf describes their findings in the video below. An archive of NBER videos on pandemic-related research may be found here.
Three NBER working papers distributed this week report on economic, health, and related consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, or on the impact of public policies that respond to it. Two focus on innovation policy. One studies the incentives for scientists to engage in high-risk research, such as the work on mRNA that ultimately led to several COVID-19 vaccines (28905), while another compares the US innovation policy response to the pandemic with past periods of rapid innovation, notably the years during and after World War II (28915). The third presents new data on the rate and composition of entrepreneurial activity in the US during the pandemic (28912).
Over 420 NBER working papers have addressed various aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. These papers are open access and have been collected for easy reference. Like all NBER papers, they are circulated for discussion and comment, and have not been peer-reviewed. View them in reverse chronological order or by topic area.
Crystal Yang Named Codirector of Economics of Crime Working Group
Crystal Yang, a professor of law at the Harvard Law School and a research associate in the NBER Law and Economics Program, is a new codirector of the Economics of Crime Working Group. In this role she joins Philip J. Cook of Duke University and Jens Ludwig of the University of Chicago, who along with Justin McCrary of Columbia University launched the working group in 2007.
Yang, who became an NBER affiliate in 2017, has studied a range of issues related to the criminal justice system, including bail, inter-judge sentencing disparities, racial bias, and deportation. Her research has been cited in US Supreme Court and federal district court cases.
Yang received four degrees – an AB and PhD in economics, an MA in statistics, and a JD – from Harvard University. She took leave from her teaching post in 2014-15 to serve as Special Assistant US Attorney in the US Attorney’s Office for Massachusetts.
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Entrepreneurs and government workers in China have a higher likelihood than others of having children who own incorporated businesses, according to research by Ruixue Jia, Xiaohuan Lan, and Gerard Padró I Miquel. Where government involvement is higher, business ownership by children of government workers is higher.
Analyzing data from random IRS audits and other sources, John Guyton, Patrick Langetieg, Daniel Reck, Max Risch, and Gabriel Zucman estimate that unreported income as a fraction of true income is more than 20 percent in the top 1 percent of the income distribution, compared with 7 percent in the lower half of that distribution.
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