Risk Perception Through the Lens of Politics in the Time of the Covid-19 Pandemic

26 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2020 Last revised: 18 Apr 2022

See all articles by John Manuel Barrios

John Manuel Barrios

Washington University in St. Louis - Olin Business School; National Bureau of Economic Research

Yael V. Hochberg

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Rice University - Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 2020

Abstract

Even when, objectively speaking, death is on the line, partisan bias still colors beliefs about facts. We show that a higher share of Trump voters in a county is associated with lower perceptions of risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. As Trump voter share rises, individuals search less for information on the virus, and engage in less social distancing behavior, as measured by smartphone location patterns. These patterns persist in the face of state-level mandates to close schools and businesses or to “stay home,” and reverse only when conservative politicians are exposed and the White House releases federal social distancing guidelines.

Suggested Citation

Barrios, John Manuel and Hochberg, Yael V., Risk Perception Through the Lens of Politics in the Time of the Covid-19 Pandemic (April 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w27008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3580566

John Manuel Barrios (Contact Author)

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Yael V. Hochberg

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Rice University - Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business ( email )

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