Insights from top economists to help you navigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis. Hosts Tess Vigeland and Eduardo Porter talk to University of Chicago economists about their research, revealing important new ways to make sense of this moment. Economics is at the heart of crucial decisions about how we confront the COVID-19 crisis. Topics range from global trade to the changing meaning of work. Pandemic Economics is produced by the Becker Friedman Institute and Stitcher and is part of the University of Chicago podcast network. Production and original music in this series is by Story Mechanics.


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Latest Episodes

Podcast episode Oct 22, 2020

Deep Dive Series – Is the Future Cashless?

When COVID lockdowns started, the use of cash plummeted. But the pandemic only accelerated a trend already underway. Is a fully cashless world on the horizon? Who benefits from...
Podcast episode Oct 8, 2020

Deep Dive Series – The Health Care Conundrum, Part 2

The US pays roughly twice as much per person for healthcare as other wealthy nations. Yet Americans are in worse health. A group of leading health economists, physicians, and...
Podcast episode Sep 24, 2020

Deep Dive Series – The Health Care Conundrum, Part 1

The global pandemic has revealed critical gaps and weaknesses in the US health care system. How is our system structured and how did we get here? In part one...
Podcast episode Sep 11, 2020

Deep Dive Series – Climate vs. Development: The Global Dilemma

How you experience the global energy crisis and climate change depends in large part on where you live. For this special deep dive episode, Michael Greenstone and Amir Jina discuss long-term...
Podcast episode Aug 27, 2020

Episode 20: Can COVID Change the Climate?

COVID-19 has prompted a significant decline in carbon emissions, accompanied by extraordinary economic cost. Professor Michael Greenstone discusses what energy economists are learning from the pandemic and how the...
Podcast episode Aug 20, 2020

Episode 19: Uncovering the Politics of Mask Usage

What does the 2016 election tell us about mask use in America? Quite a lot. Austin Wright draws on new research and what it can tell us about the...
Podcast episode Aug 13, 2020

Episode 18: The COVID Slide: Impact on Childhood

You’ve likely heard of the summer slide in childhood learning. Will changes to education and toxic stress due to COVID-19 result in similar losses, especially for already disadvantaged children?...
Podcast episode Aug 6, 2020

Episode 17: Navigating Uncertainty

How can leaders make sound policy decisions with incomplete information? Lars Peter Hansen and Constantine Yannelis outline what economic theory offers to decision-makers dealing with uncertainty and what it...
Podcast episode Jul 30, 2020

Episode 16: How to Price a Vaccine?

Under both pandemic and economic stress, how will the market perform when it comes to setting the price for effective treatments or a cure?  Katherine Baicker and Richard Thaler...
Podcast episode Jul 23, 2020

Episode 15: US & China: Relationship on the Rocks?

Is COVID-19 complicating US-China relations? Zhiguo He and Chang-Tai Hsieh offer insight into how the current crisis has impacted existing dynamics between the world’s two largest economies. If you’ve...
Podcast episode Jul 16, 2020

Episode 14: The Holes in the Safety Net

CARES Act funds quickly put cash in the hands of Americans affected by shutdown, but in many cases, relief didn’t reach minority and low-income workers who needed it most....
Podcast episode Jul 11, 2020

Episode 13: Stopping an Avalanche of Poverty

One of the largest economic downturns in US history has not produced more poverty. What happened? Bruce Meyer describes how the federal government’s swift actions kept, or, in some...
Podcast episode Jul 2, 2020

Episode 12: The Virus is the Boss

Is government policy driving consumer behavior or fear of infection? Austan Goolsbee and Chad Syverson share new research exploring this question, and why it matters for economic policy design....
Podcast episode Jun 25, 2020

Episode 11: The Lopsided Recession

The current recession is not only unprecedented in its nature and scope, but also in its effects on industries, workers, and households. Veronica Guerrieri and Erik Hurst describe the...
Podcast episode Jun 18, 2020

Episode 10: Meet the COVID-19 Consumer

Consumer spending is one of the most important indicators of economic health. In this episode, Michael Weber and Constantine Yannelis share research insights on the effect of pandemic and...
Podcast episode Jun 11, 2020

Episode 9: Could the Fed’s Rescue Go Awry?

Central banks are playing a critical, yet little discussed, role in limiting the economic damage of COVID-19. In this episode, Chicago Booth professor and former Governor of the Reserve...
Podcast episode Jun 9, 2020

Episode 8: Rethinking the Jobless Benefits Boost

Under the CARES Act, two-thirds of eligible unemployed Americans can access unemployment insurance exceeding their prior earnings. Peter Ganong and Joseph Vavra discuss what this fact means for the...
Podcast episode May 28, 2020

Episode 7: Learning from South Korea’s Success

South Korea detected its first case of COVID-19 one day before the US, but rather than initiate lockdowns, it launched a program that shares location information on COVID-19 patients....
Podcast episode May 21, 2020

Episode 6: Superspreaders

Does visiting a bookstore put you at greater risk for infection than a fast-food restaurant? As states loosen lockdown restrictions on businesses, Katherine Baicker and Oeindrila Dube have developed...
Podcast episode May 14, 2020

Episode 5: Jobs Lost and the Child Care Conundrum

Since March, 22% of American workers lost their jobs. How can we begin to think about such unprecedented labor market deterioration? Erik Hurst studied who has stopped receiving a...
Podcast episode May 7, 2020

Episode 4: Policy Gambles?

Steve Levitt believes in the power of incentives and he has a new proposal for how to make widespread testing successful: set up a testers’ lottery and give gigantic...
Podcast episode May 5, 2020

Episode 3: The Case for Optimism

Is there any room for optimism amid an economic shock of this magnitude? Austan Goolsbee offers insights from past economic crises and a path forward for balancing trade-offs between...
Podcast episode Apr 30, 2020

Episode 2: Who Can Work From Home?

Many workers are able to continue working without leaving home and risking exposure. Looking at which workers have this option reveals other insights. In this episode, Brent Neiman and...
Podcast episode Apr 23, 2020

Episode 1: The Value of A Life

Life is not priceless. But it’s also not cheap. Michael Greenstone describes how economics puts a value on life, and why it is so important to save as many...
Podcast episode Apr 19, 2020

Trailer: Introducing Pandemic Economics

A new podcast helping you navigate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.