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Is SARS a Poor Man’s Disease?

Working paper #503
Grace Wong

This paper investigates the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and the spread of SARS. I focus on the SARS infection rates in 295 large-scale Hong Kong housing complexes. Using pre-SARS property values as indicators of SES, I identify a negative SES-SARS link. I also find that density, proximity to the city centers and availability of communal facilities increase the spread of SARS. Building age, flat size, proximity to medical establishments, formation of residents’ association or whether the housing complex is public are not significantly associated with the SARS infection rate. The SES-SARS relationship remains robust after controlling for living conditions. I provide evidence that household income is likely to be an important component of the SES-SARS link.

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