Investigating the Impact of COVID-19 on Healthcare Inequities and Public Attitudes
PI: Cesar Vargas Nunez, PhD Candidate, Department of Political Science
Summary: Six months after the first COVID-19 case in the US, it has become evident that minorities are suffering a disproportionate share of cases and deaths. Yet, the asymmetric impact of COVID-19 is not driven by biological factors but by political decisions that determine which individuals (and under what conditions) are eligible for healthcare. Immigrants, barred from most government healthcare programs, are left especially vulnerable. Fixing these inequities, however, requires action from policymakers who are unlikely to act unless doing so is popular with voters. While it has been argued that the ongoing pandemic has changed public attitudes towards healthcare expansion, there is limited evidence that confirms it. This project seeks to answer two interrelated questions. First, how have immigrants coped with the pandemic? Second, how has COVID-19 altered public attitudes towards healthcare access? To answer the former, this study will use social media advertisements to recruit a large sample of immigrants across the country and collect survey data on the impact of COVID-19 in their lives. The results will shed light on the experiences of immigrants with COVID-19, whether they were able to access necessary care, and how the pandemic has affected their mental health. To answer the second question, the study will use a set of survey experiments to measure the pandemic’s short and long-term effects on attitudes. The results of this study will contribute to scholarship on health inequities and inform policies to reduce them.