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Contagion at Work

Anna Houštecká, Dongya Koh and Raul Santaeulalia-Llopis

No 1225, Working Papers from Barcelona Graduate School of Economics

Abstract: Using nationally representative micro panel data on flu incidence from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey in the United States, we show that employed individuals are on average 35.3% more likely to be infected with the virus. Wage earners are more likely to be infected than the unemployed by 30.1% and than individuals out of the labor force by 40.8%. Our results are robust to individual characteristics including vaccinations, health insurance and unobserved heterogeneity. Within the employed, we find an occupation-flu gradient---e.g. sales occupations show 34.1% higher probability of infection than farmers. As a potential mechanism behind this gradient, we study occupation-specific exposure to human contact interaction at work---a score that we construct based on O'NET occupational characteristics---which, as we show, determines flu incidence. All these effects increase with the aggregate flu incidence and are robust to firm size and across industries.

Keywords: Contagion; flu; employment; unemployment; Occupations; industry; gradient; exposure; human contact; vaccines; lockdown; policy; macroeconomics (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J01 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020-12
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hea and nep-mac
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