The Impacts of Covid-19 Illnesses on Workers
We show that Covid-19 illnesses persistently reduce labor supply. Using an event study, we estimate that workers with week-long Covid-19 work absences are 7 percentage points less likely to be in the labor force one year later compared to otherwise-similar workers who do not miss a week of work for health reasons. Our estimates suggest Covid-19 illnesses have reduced the U.S. labor force by approximately 500,000 people (0.2 percent of adults) and imply an average forgone earnings per Covid-19 absence of at least $9,000, about 90 percent of which reflects lost labor supply beyond the initial absence week.
We thank David Autor, Justin Bloesch, David Cutler, Martha Gimbel, Daniele Girardi, Dev Patel, Jim Poterba, Brendan Price, Cecilia Rouse, Charlie Rafkin, Aaron Sojourner, Ben Sprung-Keyser, Michael Stepner, Ernest Tedeschi, and seminar participants at the NBER Summer Institute for helpful comments. We gratefully acknowledge support from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (Grant No. 1122374, Soltas) and from the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health (P30AG012810, Goda and Soltas). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.