Compliance with COVID-19 Social-Distancing Measures in Italy: The Role of Expectations and Duration
27 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2020
Date Written: 2020
We study how intentions to comply with the self-isolation restrictions introduced in Italy to mitigate the COVID-19 epidemic respond to the length of their possible extension. Based on a survey of a representative sample of Italian residents (N=894), we find that respondents who are positively surprised by a given hypothetical extension (i.e. the extension is shorter than what they expected) are more willing to increase their self-isolation. In contrast, negative surprises (extensions longer than expected) are associated with a lower willingness to comply. In a context where individual compliance has collective benefits, but full enforcement is costly and controversial, communication and persuasion have a fundamental role. Our findings provide insights to public authorities on how to announce lockdown measures and manage people's expectations.
Keywords: COVID-19, social distancing, expectations
JEL Classification: C420, D910, H120, H410, I120
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation