Coronavirus Pandemic Research
Long-Term Mortality Effects of Pandemic-Related Unemployment
The COVID-19 pandemic, and the lock-down policies adopted in response to it, were associated with an increase in the US unemployment rate from 3.5 percent in February to 14.8 percent in April 2020. NBER Research Associate Francesco Bianchi of Duke University, in collaboration with Giada Bianchi of the Harvard Medical School and Dongho Song of Johns Hopkins University, has investigated the long-term mortality consequences of this elevated level of unemployment. Analyzing the historical relationship between the unemployment rate and subsequent mortality rates for various population sub-groups, the researchers estimate that the pandemic-related unemployment shock will raise mortality rates and reduce life expectancy by about 0.5 percent for the overall US population. Their findings, described in a recent working paper (28304), suggest that in the near term, the increase in mortality rates is likely to be most pronounced for African-Americans and women, although over the long term, mortality for white men will rise substantially. Francesco Bianchi summarizes these findings in the video below. An archive of NBER videos on pandemic-related topics may be found here.
Four NBER working papers distributed this week investigate the economic and health consequences of COVID-19, or the impact of public policies that are designed to respond to the pandemic. One studies the cross-country differences in the pandemic-induced slump in economic activity and in macroeconomic policy responses (28339). A second analyzes the trajectory of unemployment rates for women, minority groups, and other sub-groups of the population during the pandemic (28354). Another examines the impact of the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic on stock prices (28356). The last study reports that pandemic-related debt forbearance, such as that provided by the CARES Act, will affect nearly 60 million borrowers and apply to almost $70 billion in debt repayments by early 2021 (28357).
More than 350 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 Like all NBER papers, they are circulated for discussion and comment, and have not been peer-reviewed.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.
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