Non-contractual relations, covid-19 recession, cash-equivalent relief


We examine United Ways 211 call data to test for a non-contractual relationship between a mutual aid nonprofit network and the distribution of federal stimulus checks during the COVID-19 economic recession. Data trends reveal an increase in requests for cash-equivalent relief at the early stage of the 2020 recession, and that the spike in requests from government sources was more than double, proportionately, than for requests from private mutual aid sources. Regression results indicate that the probability of a request for cash-equivalent relief from a government source, as well as United Ways referrals to government agencies, were elevated by the federal stimulus checks. Evidence that the federal stimulus check program induced persons to appeal to the non-profit sector for relief suggests the presence of a non-contractual dynamic between these aid modes. The non-profit sector absorbs the initial shock of a severe economic decline, but then quickly directs aid recipients to governmental resources when these become available.

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