HYBRID EVENT: You can participate in person at Baltimore, Maryland, USA or Virtually from your home or work.
Olivia Viscuso, Speaker at Vaccines Conferences
Mccombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin, United States
Title : Assessing political sorting in response to COVID-19 vaccine mandates: A preliminary analysis



In recent years, politics and business have become increasingly intertwined, with employees increasingly seeking workplaces that align with their political views (Stuckatz, 2020). The COVID-19 pandemic response introduced public health regulations that became contentious in the political sphere, and issues such as vaccine mandates began to divide communities and workplaces. Prior research has identified a phenomenon described as political sorting, wherein employees seek environments that match their political ideology (Bermiss and McDonald, 2018). Departure is more likely for employees whose personal ideology is more conservative than their workplace, and these employees tend to relocate to organizations that are more aligned with their political beliefs (Bermiss and McDonald, 2018, Brown et. al, 2020). This preliminary study examines the extent to which mandatory COVID-19 vaccination in healthcare workplaces impacted employee turnover and political sorting.


We gathered data from three sources - employee turnover data from Revelio, COVID-19 vaccine mandate dates from hand-collected research and news articles, and employee political orientation from federal filings stored and made public by the FEC. From Revelio, we aggregated employee counts and turnover rates to the firm-state-year-quarter level. From the FEC we collapsed data to firm-state level observations, tracking the number and total dollar amount of donations to Republican and Democratic committees to assess overall political alignment. We then regressed employee turnover rates on the presence of a vaccine mandate, as well as a set of controls. 


Data was collected from 31 healthcare firms split into 263 firm-state groups. Average turnover rates were around 15% prior to vaccine mandates and increased to 26% in the quarter after vaccine mandates were implemented. Among the 31 firms, 7 firm-metropolitan statistical area combinations were found in the quarter after the vaccine mandate was introduced. The raw correlation between vaccine mandates and turnover rates is positive. However, this association becomes economically smaller, though still meaningful, and is no longer statistically significant (p-value of 0.19) once industry-fixed effects are included. When firm fixed effects are included, the coefficient on the vaccine mandate becomes negative, economically meaningful, and statistically significant. The firms that showed increased turnover were largely liberal-leaning with limited data found on conservative-aligned firms.


While we analyze the coefficients on vaccine mandates in this study, we note that these results are speculative, as we currently do not have the power to find statistically significant effects due to limited data on employee turnover post-vaccine mandate. This preliminary study indicated that there may be a relationship between vaccine mandates and employee turnover, which suggests the presence of political sorting within the healthcare industry. Due to the potential implications of political polarization on healthcare delivery, further research should be done to include more firms and understand the impact of sorting on health outcomes.

Audience Take Away

  • How COVID-19 vaccine mandates appear to impact employee turnover and potential implications, including political polarization within the workplace
  • Why there is a need for more research on the impact of political sorting within healthcare firms
  • How political alignment within a firm can dictate employee retention and satisfaction
  • Why future vaccine-related policies should account for political sorting and its economic impact


Olivia studied neuroscience Northwestern University and played Division I volleyball before beginning medical school at Dell Medical School at UT Austin. Her interest in leadership and advocacy led her to roles as a student senator and representative to the Undergraduate Medical Education Healthcare Delivery Subcommittee. Olivia's desire to understand the health business ecosystem and to unite her passions for leadership and healthcare led her to pursue her MBA through McCombs School of Business during her third year of medical school. Following completion of her MD/MBA, she intends to apply to residency for pediatric neurology.