Researcher: Eric Lee

Eric Lee is a senior majoring in Actuarial Science and minoring in economics. He is from Archbald, PA and recently accepted a job at Geico for his life after Roanoke College. There he will be analyzing all kinds of data. With The ECON LAB he is investigating mental health during the pandemic.

In his own words:

“When brainstorming research ideas for this semester, I wanted to think about what the biggest effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been on myself and the people around me. There are certainly many ways that the pandemic has negatively impacted individuals and the economy. However, I have chosen to focus on the effects that the pandemic has had on the mental health of Americans. This topic is very important to me because of the number of close friends I have seen in a very poor mental state since this began.

            As a basic first step, the data that was put out by the CDC’s Household Pulse Survey will be analyzed. This data does not include many variables (only symptoms of depression and anxiety), but it can be broken up by age, race, education level and state. This could allow for some basic analysis. For example, did some states or age groups experience worse mental health outcomes than others? I would be particularly interested to see if people of varying education levels were affected differently.

            I also plan on analyzing how mental health was affected by past recessions and making predictions about this recession since there is not much data yet available. Most importantly, I will analyze how the Great Recession of 2008 affected people’s mental health. Using data from BRFSS and other sources, I am sure that I will be able to break people up into similar groups as the Household Pulse Survey did this year. This could allow for comparisons to see if people are reacting similarly thus far, or if mental health outcomes are different due to the fact that this recession is associated with a viral pandemic.

            The goal of this research will be to illuminate how people are affected mentally by crises that are out of their control. There are important questions at the heart of this: are worse mental health outcomes a definite result of recessions and financial crises? Is there anything that can be done to lessen the impact of these events on the mental health of Americans? Hopefully, this research can begin to answer to some of these, or at least begin a discussion that could lead to further research being done on this topic.”

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