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Emily Oster: Why wasn't the US tracking the spread of COVID-19 in schools?

Robert Leslie / TED

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Bucking The System.

In summer 2020, parents faced so many unknowns when it came to sending kids to school. Economist Emily Oster describes how she started collecting data nationwide to help parents decide for themselves.

About Emily Oster

Emily Oster is a professor of economics at Brown University.

Previously, she worked at the National Bureau of Economic Research and taught economics at the University of Chicago. Her academic work analyses how consumers make health decisions. She has also written three books about the data that informs the choices people make during pregnancy and as parents. In 2021, Oster became the executive director of the COVID-19 School Data Hub.

Oster earned a B.A. and a Ph.D. in economics, both from Harvard University.

This segment of TED Radio Hour was produced by Sylvie Douglis and James Delahoussaye and edited by Sanaz Meshkinpour. You can follow us on Facebook @TEDRadioHourand email us at

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Manoush Zomorodi
Manoush Zomorodi is the host of TED Radio Hour. She is a journalist, podcaster and media entrepreneur, and her work reflects her passion for investigating how technology and business are transforming humanity.
Sanaz Meshkinpour
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
James Delahoussaye
[Copyright 2024 NPR]