The Macroeconomics of Epidemics
Review of Financial Studies,
We extend the canonical epidemiology model to study the interaction between economic decisions and epidemics. Our model implies that people cut back on consumption and work to reduce the chances of being infected. These decisions reduce the severity of the epidemic but exacerbate the size of the associated recession. The competitive equilibrium is not socially optimal because infected people do not fully internalize the effect of their economic decisions on the spread of the virus. In our benchmark model, the best simple containment policy increases the severity of the recession but saves roughly half a million lives in the United States.
24.06.2021 • 17/2021
Loneliness during the pandemic – social isolation increases the likelihood of selfish behaviour
Social distancing as a counter-measure to the COVID-19 pandemic has far-reaching social consequences which have so far hardly been discussed from an economic perspective. This is demonstrated in a study by the Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH). “Experiencing social isolation resulted in the participants in our study making more selfish decisions,” says the author of the study, Sabrina Jeworrek, Assistant Professor at Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg and head of research group in the Department of Structural Change and Productivity at IWH.
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Consumer Defaults and Social Capital
Journal of Financial Stability,
Using account level data from a credit bureau, we study the role that social capital plays in consumer default decisions. We find that borrowers in communities with greater social capital are significantly less likely to default on loans, even after adjusting for different levels of income and other characteristics such as credit scores. The results are strongest for potentially strategic defaults on mortgages; a one standard deviation increase in social capital reduces such defaults by 12.4 %. These results can be generalized to any mortgage default. Our results also indicate that the effect of social capital is most prominent among more creditworthy borrowers, suggesting that when given a choice, the social cost of defaulting is an important factor affecting default decisions. We find a similar impact of social capital on consumer defaults in other datasets with more detailed information on borrowers as well. Our results are robust to modeling and methodology choices, as well as controlling for other drivers of default such as wealth, income and amenities from homeownership. Our results suggest that increasing social capital via measures to build community cohesion such as promotion of owner-occupied home ownership may be one avenue to deter consumer default.
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