skip to content

Faculty of Economics

Journal Cover

Brotherhood, l., Cavalcanti, T., Da Mata, D. and Santos, C.

Slums and Pandemics

Journal of Development Economics

Vol. 157 (2022)

Abstract: How do slums shape the economic and health dynamics of pandemics? A difference-in-differences analysis using millions of mobile phones in Brazil shows that residents of overcrowded slums engaged in less social distancing after the outbreak of Covid-19. We develop and calibrate a choice-theoretic equilibrium model in which individuals are heterogeneous in income and some people live in high-density slums. Slum residents account for a disproportionately high number of infections and deaths and, without slums, deaths increase in non-slum neighborhoods. Policy analysis of reallocation of medical resources, lockdowns and cash transfers produce heterogeneous effects across groups. Policy simulations indicate that: reallocating medical resources cuts deaths and raises output and the welfare of both groups; mild lockdowns favor slum individuals by mitigating the demand for hospital beds, whereas strict confinements mostly delay the evolution of the pandemic; and cash transfers benefit slum residents to the detriment of others, highlighting important distributional effects.

Keywords: COVID-19, Health, public policies, slums, social distancing

JEL Codes: E17, I10, I18, D62, O18, C63

Author links: Tiago Cavalcanti  

Publisher's Link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jdeveco.2022.102882

Keynes Fund Project(s):
Gray Zones: On the Causes and Consequences of Slums (JHOB)  



Cambridge Working Paper in Economics Version of Paper: Slums and Pandemics, Brotherhood, L., Cavalcanti, T., Da Mata, D. and Santos, C. , (2020)

Papers and Publications



Recent Publications


Porzio, T., Rossi, F. and Santangelo, G. The Human Side of Structural Transformation American Economic Review [2022]

Huffman, D., Raymond, C. and Shvets, J. Persistent Overconfidence and Biased Memory: Evidence from Managers American Economic Review [2022]

Aidt, T. S. Review of Forging the Franchise: The Political Origins of the Women's Vote Journal of Economic Literature [2022]

Giannitsarou, C., Kissler, S. and Toxvaerd, F.M.O. Waning Immunity and the Second Wave: Some Projections for SARS-CoV-2 American Economic Review: Insights [2021]