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, forthcoming

(2022)

Abstract: This paper studies the role of slums in shaping the economic and health dynamics of pandemics. Using data from millions of mobile phones in Brazil, an event-study analysis shows that residents of overcrowded slums engaged in less social distancing after the outbreak of Covid-19. We develop a choice-theoretic equilibrium model in which poorer agents live in high-density slums and others do not. The model is calibrated to Rio de Janeiro. Slum dwellers account for a disproportionately high number of infections and deaths. In a counterfactual scenario without slums, deaths increase in non-slum neighborhoods. 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 in 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  

PDF Link: https://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/research-files/repec/cam/pdf/cwpe2076.pdf

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]

Merrick Li, Z. and Linton, O. A ReMeDI for Microstructure Noise Econometrica [2022]

Iyer, S. Religion and Discrimination: A Review Essay of Persecution and Toleration: The Long Road to Religious Freedom Journal of Economic Literature [2022]

Agranov, M. and Elliott, M. Commitment and (in) Efficiency: A Bargaining Experiment Journal of the European Economic Association [2021]