Research Insights: How Do Economic Networks Contribute to the Spread and Mitigation of Health Shocks?

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Aug 2022
Small firm owners facing idiosyncratic shocks adjust production by cutting spending and reducing their demand for external workers. These shocks propagate to other local households with whom shocked firms trade inputs and labor through local supply-chain and labor market networks, leading to declines in transactions, income, and consumption. The total indirect effects are larger than the direct effects: a US$1 decline in a shocked households business spending reduces aggregate consumption by US$1.7. Both the direct and indirect effects are mitigated by incoming transfers to shocked households with access to risk-sharing networks. Therefore, having access to health insurance protects both directly affected households as well as those who conduct transactions with them.