Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Discussion Paper Series in Economics,
Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics

No 15/2020: A Poorly Understood Disease? The Unequal Distribution of Excess Mortality Due to COVID-19 Across French Municipalities

Paul Brandily (), Clément Brébion (), Simon Briole () and Laura Khoury ()
Additional contact information
Paul Brandily: Paris School of Economics
Clément Brébion: Paris School of Economics
Simon Briole: Paris School of Economics
Laura Khoury: Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, Postal: NHH, Department of Economics, Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen, Norway

Abstract: While COVID-19 was responsible for more than 600,000 deaths worldwide as of July 24, 2020, very little is known about the socio-economic heterogeneity of its impact on mortality. In this paper, we combine several administrative data sources to estimate the relationship between mortality due to COVID-19 and poverty at a very local level (i.e. the municipality level) in France, one of the most severely hit countries in the world. We find strong evidence of an income gradient in the impact of the pandemic on mortality rates, which is twice as large in municipalities below the 25th percentile of the national income distribution than in municipalities above this threshold. We then show that both poor housing conditions and higher occupational exposure play a key role in this heterogeneity: taken together, these mechanisms account for up to 77% of the difference observed between rich and poor municipalities.

Keywords: COVID-19; poverty; inequality; mortality; labor market; housing conditions

JEL-codes: I14; I18; R00

39 pages, August 25, 2020

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