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2020–21 Grants

The following are summaries of the research grants awarded:

Employee Hardship Funds as Mutual Aid

John Ahlquist, Professor, GPS, UC San Diego
Dozens of major U.S. companies now maintain programs that combine monetary donations from their employees and (tax deductible) corporate contributions to offer emergency cash grant programs for their own workers in times of need. These programs are known as “employee hardship funds” or EHFs. There is no academic or policy research on EHFs despite their apparently rapid growth. CGT provided seed funding to Ahlquist to support the design and pilot testing of a novel survey of workers matched to their employers. The survey will provide the first systematic evidence of employee awareness, experience and opinion about EHFs. Ahlquist is also embedding experiments within the survey to identify the impact of EHFs on workers’ opinions about their coworkers, employers, labor unions, government-provided social insurance and COVID-19 relief programs. The study has policy implications for the tax treatment of charity in the American political economy, the tools employers have for union avoidance and public opinion about major government relief programs.

What's Ourdoors is Also Indoors

Jennifer Burney, Associate Professor and Josh Graff Zivin, Professor, GPS, UC San Diego
Particulate matter (PM) is the largest environmental cause of mortality around the globe. Although PM is produced by a vast array of sources, most of the dominant contributors tend to be outdoors, including transportation, electric power generation, industry, forest fires and dust. And while the built environment provides shelter from the elements, it is an incomplete filter. The team used a full year of hourly data crowdsourced from the PurpleAir Real Time Air Quality Monitoring Network to explore the dynamic relationship between outdoor and indoor PM concentrations. The scale of this study, which pulled data from consumers across California, offers new insight into both average penetration rates and drivers of heterogeneity in the outdoor−indoor relationship. The authors found that an increase in the daily outdoor PM concentration of 10% leads to an average increase of 4.2−6.1% in indoor concentrations. They also provide evidence that penetration rates are associated with building age and climatic conditions. The findings have significant implications for government policies to improve public health through reductions in exposure to ambient air pollution.

COVID-19 Lockdown Relief in India

Guarav Khana, Assistant Professor, GPS, UC San Diego
With support from a CGT, Khanna and his colleagues’ research continues to support India’s relief efforts by examining high frequency and high spatial data from the state government, plus other sources of firm level data. Of particular importance to the state was to know how easy it was to switch to alternative potential suppliers when a firm’s primary supplier shuts down. The analysis allows us to quantify just how much governments should invest in facilitating such trade. The analysis suggests that as many supplier firms (e.g., steel mills) shut shop, their downstream buyers (e.g., car manufacturers) had great trouble finding alternative suppliers. This has substantial implications for the shape of economic recoveries following such crises. In the longer run, we may expect there to be permanent consequences of this pandemic-induced crisis to both the steel and car industries.