In a recent post, I covered the impact of the failure at the Federal level to implement more robust measures on rents and tenure security for households (see: https://trueeconomics.blogspot.com/2021/02/3221-cost-of-trumps-failures-to-act-on.html). Another interesting aspect of the U.S. experience during the pandemic relates to the policies concerning the closure of essential vs non-essential businesses. A recent (January 2021) study by Song, Hummy and McKenna, Ryan and Chen, Angela T. and David, Guy and Smith-McLallen, Aaron, titled: "The Impact of the Non-Essential Business Closure Policy on Covid-19 Infection Rates" (NBER Working Paper No. w28374: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3772613) looked at the implications of this specific policy response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Per authors, durig the pandemic, "many localities instituted non-essential business closure orders, keeping individuals categorized as essential workers at the frontlines while sending their non-essential counterparts home". The authors examined "the extent to which being designated as an essential or non-essential worker impacts one’s risk of being Covid-positive following the non-essential business closure order". The study used data for the State of Pennsylvania, accounting for the intra-household transmission risk experienced by the workers' cohabiting family members and roommates.
The study estimated that:
- "... workers designated as essential have a 55% higher likelihood of being positive for Covid-19 than those classified as non-essential; in other words, non-essential workers experience a protective effect.
- "While members of the health care and social assistance sub-sector contribute significantly to this overall effect, it is not completely driven by them.
- "We also find evidence of intra-household transmission that differs in intensity by essential status. Dependents cohabiting with an essential worker have a 17% higher likelihood of being Covid-positive compared to those cohabiting with a non-essential worker. Roommates cohabiting with an essential worker experience a 38% increase in likelihood of being Covid-positive.
- Overall, "analysis of households with a Covid-positive member suggests that intrahousehold transmission is an important mechanism."