Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Professor Michael Gelman

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2023 David (Hyun Wuk) Lee


In this paper, I examine the effect of political affiliation and county stringency on non- essential expenditure shortly after COVID-19 spread to the United States and following the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine. In the analysis, I first find a significant correlation between county stringency and mobility. Afterwards, I look at political affiliation and county stringency, finding that Republican counties are more correlated with laxer measures of stringency. Finally, I regress non- essential expenditure on political affiliation, holding county stringency the same.

During the advent of COVID-19, I find that the change in non-essential expenditure is closely correlated with county stringency and not so with political affiliation. This trend does not exist for total quarterly expenditure, indicating a possible disconnect in the degree of influence county stringency holds between consumer non-essential expenditure and total expenditure. The rollout and announcement of a new vaccination is correlated with little effect on non-essential expenditure. My findings imply that there did exist a disconnect between non-essential expenditure and total expenditure and what respectively affects them during the pandemic. Furthermore, the results raise questions about the validity of deepened political polarization playing a role in the US’s response to COVID-19. Rather, it seemed that government stringency was ultimately what dictated the degree of change in non-essential expenditure, at least during the start of the pandemic.

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