How much extra COVID-19 risk would you be willing to accept to open the economy?

That is the basic question that Reed et al. (2020) attempt to answer in their recent paper. The approach they use is as follows:

We designed a discrete-choice experiment to administer 10 choice questions to each respondent representing experimentally controlled pairs of scenarios defined by when nonessential businesses could reopen (May, July, or October 2020), cumulative percentage of Americans contracting coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) through 2020 (2% to 20%), time for economic recovery (2 to 5 years), and the percentage of US households falling below the poverty threshold (16% to 25%)…

Applying this methodology, the survey collected information from about 6000 US adults in May 2020. Using a latent class analysis, they found that four classes fit the data best.

The largest class (36%) represented COVID-19 risk-minimizers, reluctant to accept any increases in COVID-19 risks. About 26% were waiters, strongly preferring to delay reopening nonessential businesses, independent of COVID-19 risk levels. Another 25% represented recovery-supporters, primarily concerned about time required for economic recovery. This group would accept COVID-19 risks as high as 16% (95% CI: 13%-19%) to shorten economic recovery from 3 to 2 years. The final openers class prioritized lifting social distancing restrictions, accepting of COVID-19 risks greater than 20% to open in May rather than July or October. Political affiliation, race, household income, and employment status were all associated with class membership (P.01).

Do read the whole article.

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