Francesca Molinari, H.T. Warshow and Robert Irving Warshow Professor in the Department of Economics, was recently awarded the Willard G. Manning Memorial Award along with her co-author Charles Manski, Board of Trustees Professor at Northwestern University, for their paper "Estimating the Covid-19 infection rate: Anatomy of an inference problem," published in the Journal of Econometrics. The award was made by The American Society of Health Economists (ASHEcon), a professional organization dedicated to promoting excellence in health economics research in the United States. From the ASHEcon website:
"The paper addresses a crucial question of great importance – how to measure the COVID-19 infection rate. The authors made their work on this issue available very early in the pandemic (as an NBER Working Paper), in April 2020. At that time there was a great deal of confusion about COVID-19 prevalence, and many widely differing and potentially misleading estimates. As a consequence, their work came out when the results were particularly likely to be useful. In contrast to other approaches to estimating COVID-19 prevalence, which focus on attaining point estimates, Professors Manski and Molinari focus on attaining bounds using cutting edge methods. In addition to the cutting edge methods, the work has a number of additional outstanding features. The assumptions employed to attain the bounds are well motivated by stylized real world facts and credible. Data from a number of widely disparate locations are utilized, including the small Italian town of Vo, within which a large fraction of the population was tested and retested, which makes the results more robust and general. The paper clearly explains how to think about the positive predictive value and negative predictive value of tests from a Bayesian perspective. Professors Manski and Molinari make a compelling case that this Bayesian perspective is much more informative than traditional reporting of Type I and Type II errors. This is a crucial point, and was especially important early in the pandemic."