November 2023 Faculty Spotlight
Interim Associate Dean and Professor Sanders Korenman is our faculty spotlight this month. In it he talks about his research on economics, biology, health care, and poverty, and discusses his goals as Interim Associate Dean.
Can you tell us what kind of research and work went into your forthcoming study in Economics & Human Biology: “Health insurance, labor market shocks, and mental health during the first year of the COVID-19 crisis”?
Two questions motivated this study, which I wrote with Dr. Rosemary Hyson, who is a researcher here at the Marxe School and the CUNY Institute for Demographic Research, with the support of the Russell Sage Foundation. First, did people who lost their job due to the COVID pandemic also lose health insurance coverage more than temporarily? Second, among pandemic-era job losers, was being uninsured associated with additional hardship, beyond job loss? To answer these questions, we studied data collected in the US Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, which is an experimental, near-real-time survey that helped analysts and policymakers track developments during the pandemic.
For the most part, people who lost jobs were able to replace their employer health insurance, often with Medicaid or with an ACA Marketplace (Obamacare) policy. But pandemic-era job losers who remained uninsured have suffered more hardship than job-losers who managed to get health insurance. The uninsured job-losers had somewhat more difficulty paying for food and other ordinary expenses. But where we really see differences is in mental health. Uninsured job-losers were more likely than insured job-losers to have depression and anxiety symptoms, and far less likely to get treatment such as counseling or medication if they have symptoms. As many of us know from the experiences of our friends and relatives, some of the most enduring hardships of the pandemic are in mental health.
You recently became Associate Dean. Congratulations! Can you talk a bit about your goals and work thus far?
Thank you! I’ve only been on the job for about a week, so I don’t have much to report about my work so far. I hope to build on the outstanding work of Hilary Botein, my predecessor as Associate Dean, and help Dean Sherry Ryan further the positive course she has set for the school since her arrival last year. I want the Marxe School to continue to provide an engaging workplace for all our staff and faculty, and an outstanding educational experience for all our students. I also look forward to working with Professor Ryan Smith, the new Faculty Development Coordinator for the Marxe School.
What are you teaching this academic year?
As Interim Associate Dean, I won’t be teaching any courses this year, though I hope to give some guest lectures in the courses that I typically teach, such as Poverty and Social Policy and Economic Analysis of Public Policy. I spoke at the College on September 28th for an event on updating the US poverty measure, which was hosted by the Marxe School, the NYU Wagner School, and the Columbia University Center on Poverty and Social Policy. I also gave a talk on this topic at the National Academies Committee on National Statistics in Washington D.C. and will talk at the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management’s Fall Research Conference in Atlanta. I think of those talks as a kind of teaching about my research.
Are you currently working on any research?
I’m trying to finish up a couple of papers with Professor Dahlia Remler on poverty measures that incorporate health care needs and benefits, and a paper on recent poverty trends with Dr. Rosemary Hyson. We are also writing a report to the Russell Sage Foundation about research we completed over the last couple of years with their support. I think that is as much as I can manage as Interim Associate Dean, though I have some pending proposals and have started a list of research ideas for the future.