Paid Sick Leave Laws and the Spread of Covid-19: Did Labor Law Save Lives During the Pandemic?

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Paid sick leave laws allow workers to stay at home while sick without losing pay. Did such laws help reduce the spread of Covid-19 by encouraging employees to avoid coming to work while ill? This study shows that local (state, city, and county) paid sick leave laws were associated with a decrease in new Covid-19 cases and deaths. Using on publicly available data, this research compares between counties with and without paid sick leave laws. Controls were included to account for differences in testing, population density, socio-economic inequalities, and public health variables. Counties with paid sick leave laws are estimated to have 4.057 fewer daily cases per 100k residents; and 0.332 fewer daily deaths per 1M residents. These findings provide new evidence to the link between labor laws and public health; and may move policymakers to adopt paid sick leave laws as a means to manage Covid-19 and future pandemics.

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67 pages


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Access to care; Covid-19; Employment law; Labor policy; Paid sick leave; Pandemic


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Union Local


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Avgar, Ariel

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Ziebarth, Nicolas

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Industrial and Labor Relations

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M.S., Industrial and Labor Relations

Degree Level

Master of Science

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Government Document




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dissertation or thesis

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