HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Ethel Zimmerman Wiener Professor of Public Policy, HKS; Henry and Allison McCance Professor of Business Administration, HBS


The label of “essential worker” reflects society’s needs but does not mean that society has compensated those workers for additional risks incurred on the job during the current pandemic. When an essential worker contracts severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), they pose a risk to the other members of their household. These members may be elderly or lack health insurance, and the household may have limited resources to care for a sick family member.1,2 We assessed the proportion of essential workers in the US population and described the economic vulnerability of their households.


McCormack, Grace, Christopher Avery, Ariella Kahn-Lang Spitzer, and Amitabh Chandra. "Economic Vulnerability of Households With Essential Workers." JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association 324.4 (July 2020): 388–390.