Date of this Version
Arvind Bhusnurmath, Alex Rees-Jones
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected billions of lives around the world, and the CARES Act, the largest relief package in United States history was created to alleviate the effects of the pandemic. This policy introduced stimulus checks, direct payments to individuals and families that aimed to incentivize the consumption of goods and thus revive the economy. In this thesis I ask the question: do stimulus checks work? I try to answer this question using data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and utilizing household expenditures as a proxy for consumption in the economy. I format the data into aggregate monthly expenditures and calculate the monthly percentage change for 2019 and 2020 and find that returns in April-August 2020 seem abnormally larger than those seen in the same months in 2020. Using Python, I conduct three multiple linear regressions with varying sets of predictors to test whether the increase in expenditures for those months is indeed statistically significant. Among the findings uncovered by this analysis, I find that expenditures in April-July 2020 were, on average, $206.63 USD higher than on other months. Additionally, expenses during those same months in 2020 were $41.55 USD higher than other months in 2020 on average.
stimulus checks, CARES Act, COVID-19, consumption, expenditures
Date Posted: 24 May 2023