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Political violence, risk aversion, and population health: Evidence from the US Capitol riot

Dhaval Dave (), Drew McNichols () and Joseph J. Sabia ()
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Dhaval Dave: Bentley University
Drew McNichols: San Diego State University
Joseph J. Sabia: IZA

Journal of Population Economics, 2022, vol. 35, issue 4, No 1, 1345-1384

Abstract: Abstract This study is the first to explore the impact of the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot on risk avoidance behavior and the spread of COVID-19. First, using anonymized smartphone data from SafeGraph, Inc., and an event-study approach, we document a substantial increase on January 6 in non-resident smartphone pings at the sites of the protest: the Ellipse, the National Mall, and the US Capitol Building. Then, using data from the same source and a synthetic control approach, we find that the Capitol riot led to an increase in stay-at-home behavior among District of Columbia residents, consistent with risk avoidance behavior and post-riot policies designed to limit large in-person gatherings. Finally, while we find no evidence that the Capitol riot substantially increased the spread of COVID-19 in the District of Columbia, we do find that counties with the highest inflows of out-of-town protesters experienced a 0.004 to 0.010 increase in the rate of daily cumulative COVID-19 case growth during the month following the event. These findings are exacerbated in counties without COVID-19 mitigation policies in place.

Keywords: Capitol riot; Stay-at-home behavior; COVID-19 spread (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I12 I18 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1007/s00148-022-00914-0

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