EconoFact on the Covid-19 Pandemic

EconoFact has been providing insights into the current health/economic crisis. Here is a compendium:


  • Mortality rates for whom? We know the elderly are more at risk.  Who else faces an elevated risk of death? Phil Levine and Robin McKnight (Wellesley) draw lessons from the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic in Lessons from the 1918 Flu Pandemic:
    • The poor suffer higher mortality than those who are better off.
    • Those living in areas with worse air pollution face a higher risk of death.
    • The scope and speed of policy responses affects mortality rates.




  • Unemployment Insurance (UI) is important, but will this crisis shred the safety net?  Patricia Anderson (Dartmouth) and Phil Levine argue that UI is a vital policy at this time and they discuss fixes needed to UI to address the coronavirus economic fallout. They point out that more funding is required and modifications of the plan are needed.  They advocate raising the fraction of income that UI replaces and raising the maximum benefit.



  • The end of crises Dan Sichel posted a memo on how the acute phases of economic crises end.  He points out that history suggests two ingredients are needed to stanch the acute phase of an economic crisis; a resolution of the underlying cause and a dramatic economic policy response that mitigates the economic damage and causes a shift in sentiment.

8 thoughts on “EconoFact on the Covid-19 Pandemic

  1. Moses Herzog

    These are superb resources. And lots of this data and conversation is actionable data. The city pollution, individual cigarette smoking habits (I would assume this includes marijuana, vaping etc). People need to be thinking strongly to themselves “Who in my family or close friends is under 65 that has a weak immune system, weak lungs, weak heart??” (as over 65 is the obvious susceptible group from the get-go). Also “OK, I am young, but how do MY actions as a younger person, endanger the old and susceptible people I interact with daily??” These strange emotions called “consideration of others” and “empathy” that only the old Jedi masters have ever heard these words before, much less internalized them.

  2. pgl

    Thanks for this informative post. Death per millions is a more meaningful statistic for a variety of reasons. Not doing this in per capita terms can be quite misleading. Unfortunately more than 1 thousand people in my state have died to date but New York is more populated than say Utah. And we are testing more than a lot of other states.

    1. pgl

      Your usual dumb harping.

      “History suggests two ingredients are needed to stanch the acute phase of an economic crisis; a resolution of the underlying cause and a dramatic economic policy response that mitigates the economic damage and causes a shift in sentiment.”

      Are you saying we did not have economic crises in 1929 and 2008? Or did you not note they did distinguish between health driven crisis v. financial driven crisis? Please stop with this embarrassing your own mom.

  3. Moses Herzog

    I have stated on this blog many many times, that the state of Oklahoma is one of the most uneducated (Republicans defunding public schools), illiterate (Republicans defunding schools and a state culture the revels in pride at their own ignorance), and just dumb (possibly something white trash passes on in their genes??). You can name nearly ANY disgraceful category under the sun, and Oklahoma ranks in the bottom 5. Rate of incarceration, rate of domestic abuse, dollars spent per student in the classroom education, rapes (including “domestic” rapes by their own husband), unsolved murders (it is a common joke in the state that “OSBI” couldn’t solve a murder if it was committed on the sidewalk curb outside their headquarters), rural healthcare, percentage of citizens with no health insurance, per capita rate of females incarcerated (“#1” in America), Condoms education, sex education, regulations and certifications (required credentials) for people who do housing repairs (NONE and the laws they DO have are unenforced by the courts. Shall I go on?? Because the list of categories Oklahoma ranks in the bottom 5 in is only limited by the comment maker’s (my) poor brain power at this moment. Now, do you have any doubts about this??? Am I “exaggerating” how bad Oklahoma is!?!?!?!? May I present you with Exhibit A:

    It’s not that nurses/hospitals don’t have masks—it is that Oklahoma nurses are being TOLD/ORDERED by hospital administrators and bosses not to wear masks

    1. baffling

      i can beat you moses. in texas some hospitals are mandating that doctors come into the office to conduct telemedicine, rather than operate from home using same telemedicine. why, you may ask, would an administrator ask this of a practicing medical professional? because the doctor can bill for greater dollars if they telemedicine from the office! so medical professionals are being asked to unnecessarily congregate in one location to conduct an action that could be equally repeated from the safety of home isolation, simply so the hospital can BILL more hours. i understand we have been asking medical professionals to risk their lives to save the lives of others who seek help at the hospital. that is the duty they signed up for. but now they are asked to risk their lives because a bureaucrat can bill more dollars if they unnecessarily risk their lives? what kind of world do we live in?

  4. Julian Silk

    Dear Folks,

    My thanks to Menzie for the sites. With regard to Steven Kopits, please see the site at

    for details on the Spanish flu epidemic. Note that this was written in 2010, so it couldn’t possibly be affected by the current situation. Also note that the Spanish flu was not one but three separate genes acting in concert. A similar case may hold true for the present pandemic.

    As for the economic effects of the 1918 Spanish flu, see

    This was written in 2007, and also could not possibly be affected by present conditions. Note especially, that “As mentioned earlier, the greatest
    disadvantage of studying the economic effects of the 1918 influenza is the lack of economic data. ” Danny Sichel was a classmate of mine, and is a nice guy and is a careful researcher. I think he would want to have more data, which are available for 1929 and 2007-2009, to make statements.


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