Political Beliefs affect Compliance with COVID-19 Social Distancing Orders
30 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2020 Last revised: 1 May 2020
Date Written: April 30, 2020
Social distancing is vital to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus. We use geolocation data to document that political beliefs present a significant limitation to the effectiveness of state-level social distancing orders. Residents in Republican counties are less likely to completely stay at home after a state order has been implemented relative to those in Democratic counties. Debit card transaction data shows that Democrats are more likely to switch to e-commerce spending after state orders are implemented. We also find that Democrats are less likely to respond to a state-level order when it is issued by a Republican governor relative to one issued by a Democratic governor. These results are robust to controlling for other factors including time, geography, local COVID-19 cases and deaths, county characteristics, and other social distancing orders. We conclude that bipartisan support is essential to maximize the effectiveness of social distancing orders.
Keywords: COVID-19, Coronavirus, Political polarization, Geolocation data, Credit card transaction data
JEL Classification: P16, C55, H7
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation