Coronavirus Pandemic Research
Calculating the Total Economic and Health Cost of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused more than 240,000 deaths in the United States, a sharp decline in economic activity, anxiety and depression for many individuals, and difficult-to-predict long-term health costs for those who survive serious infections. NBER Research Associates David Cutler and Lawrence Summers of Harvard University translate all of these consequences into economic terms. Their calculations use estimates of the value of a statistical life that federal agencies apply in cost-benefit analysis, as well as estimates of the economic costs of anxiety. Their findings suggest a total cost of roughly $16 trillion, more than three quarters of annual gross domestic product. Cutler describes these results in the video below. An archive of NBER videos on pandemic-related topics may be found here.
Ten NBER working papers distributed this week investigate the economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and policy responses to it. Two examine the effects of the pandemic on cross-country economic linkages, one asking whether COVID-19 will reverse the recent trend toward globalization (28115), another exploring the pandemic’s impact on exchange rate volatility (28108). Two studies analyze features of policies designed to restrain the virus, one focusing on contact tracing (28135) and the other on how mobility data can be used to refine social distancing policy (28120). One study reports the relative frequency of optimistic and pessimistic media stories about the pandemic (28110), and another presents survey results on how the pandemic has affected the public’s perception of science and scientists (28112). One study uses data on stock market reactions to vaccine development news to estimate the economic value of an effective pandemic cure (28127). Another examines the operation of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and which firms took advantage of it (28114). Yet another examines how the pandemic and policy responses such as stay-at-home rules affected health care utilization (28131). A final study uses geospatial data from cell-phones to analyze the importance of off-campus student interactions as bars and related locations in spreading COVID-19 on the University of Wisconsin campus (28132).
More than 300 NBER working papers have presented pandemic-related research. 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. They may be viewed in reverse chronological order or by topic area.
NBER Offers Graduate and Post-Doctoral Fellowships
The NBER is now accepting applications for 15 fellowships to support dissertation writers and nine post-doctoral fellowships on various topics for the 2021-22 academic year. Here are the details. The deadline for most applications is December 10.
Graduate fellowships support PhD students working on specific topic areas, such as behavioral macroeconomics, energy economics, and work at older ages. These fellowships are funded by federal agencies and private foundations.
Post-doctoral fellowships permit early-career scholars working on a wide variety of topics, including health and aging, long-term fiscal policy, and tax competition, to spend a year at the NBER’s Cambridge office focusing on their research projects. The NBER also sponsors a fellowship for a researcher in any field of economics who is a member of a group that has historically been under-represented in the economics profession.
New Working Group on Race and Stratification in the Economy Launched
The NBER has launched a Working Group on Race and Stratification in the Economy to explore, document, and disseminate research on the causes and consequences of racial disparities in economic outcomes, and to stimulate research on race in all aspects of economic analysis. Research Associate Trevon Logan, the Hazel C.Youngberg Distinguished Professor of Economics at The Ohio State University, will serve as the inaugural director. The group will meet twice each year, beginning with a virtual meeting in April 2021.
The working group will take a broad approach to the economics of race, considering the factors that contribute to racial differences in income, wealth, housing, educational attainment, labor market outcomes, economic mobility, and a range of other measures. It will explore economic models of discrimination and social stratification, as well as insights on these issues from other social sciences, and will consider the role of public policies and political institutions in contributing to, and ameliorating, racial differences. More broadly, it will encourage new approaches to economic analysis of race in a variety of settings.
The NBER also has created a new post-doctoral fellowship that will support a year of research by an early-career scholar who is a member of a historically under-represented group in the economics profession, or who is studying issues of diversity in the profession. Further Information may be found at:
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