Socio-Demographic Factors Associated with Self-Protecting Behavior during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Disease spread is in part a function of individual behavior. We examine the factors predicting individual behavior during the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States using novel data collected by Belot et al. (2020). Among other factors, we show that people with lower income, less flexible work arrangements (e.g., an inability to telework) and lack of outside space at home are less likely to engage in behaviors, such as social distancing, that limit the spread of disease. We also find evidence that region, gender and beliefs predict behavior. Broadly, our findings align with typical relationships between health and socio-economic status. Moreover, they suggest that the burden of measures designed to stem the pandemic are unevenly distributed across socio-demographic groups in ways that affect behavior and thus potentially the spread of illness. Policies that assume otherwise are unlikely to be effective or sustainable.


Who Gains From Private Insurance?

The recent policy debate around healthcare reform has centered on competing ``Medicare for All" proposals. These plans vary greatly in their details and implications for the private health insurance system today, including its elimination altogether. A study of the existing Medicare Advantage program provides an opportunity to understand how much consumer surplus is generated by the presence of private health insurance, competition among private health insurance plans, and which types of consumers benefit the most from these effects. In this paper, I quantify significant amounts of consumer welfare attributable to the Medicare Advantage program. These gains are particularly strong in markets where multiple insurance plans are competing. These consumer benefits are asymmetrically distributed across different market demographics. Enrollees in markets that are more urban, less white, and with a higher Medicaid eligible population benefit most from these private insurance plans. I also find insurance companies and the government derive substantial benefits from the program. These results suggest that policies which induce higher levels of competition are likely to generate more consumer welfare, particularly benefiting more economically vulnerable consumers.


Behavior During a Pandemic


Asymmetry in the Business Cycle: Friedman's Plucking Model with Correlation Innovations, Tara M. Sinclair,

Studies in Nonlinear Dynamics and Econometrics, 2010

Consumption and Portfolio Choice Over the Life Cycle, João F. Cocco, Francisco J. Gomes, and Pascal J. Maenhout,

The Review of Financial Studies, 2005

Why are the Beveridge-Nelson and Unobserved-Components Decomposition of GDP so Different?, James C. Morley, Charles R. Nelson, and Eric Zivot,

The Review of Economics and Statistics, 2003


Asymmetry in Business Cycles

  • with Tara M. Sinclair

  • Application of Sinclair (2010) model to explore slack in a variety of macroeconomic series both domestic and international.

Improving Real-Time Employment Estimates: A State-Space Signal Extraction Approach

  • with Tara M. Sinclair

  • Presented at Society of Nonlinear Dynamics and Econometrics 2014 and Georgetown Center for Economic Research 2015.