Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Manfred Keil

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2022 Lauren M Kula


The onset of COVID-19 brought about uncertainty, confusion, and fear. As mortality rates began to skyrocket in early March of 2020 and stay-at-home orders were issued, a heated debate commenced nationwide—what was more important: protecting the U.S. economy and freedoms, or protecting individual people from the pandemic? This paper explores the trade-off between employment loss and COVID-19 mortality as it played out in U.S. states during two different time periods: the first six months of 2020, and all of 2020. This thesis substantiates past research in its analysis of some of the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic; it also extends the literature by examining how COVID-19 mortality was affected by geographic variables in the beginning of the pandemic and then demographic variables later on. I find that both stringency and COVID-19 mortality are associated with greater economic loss. Moreover, the analysis allows me to look at the economic value of a life through the lens of U.S. state stringency, finding that on average, states valued one more life saved at the cost of close to 40 jobs, or almost $433,000.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.