Support for Restricting Liberty for Safety: Evidence During the COVID-19 Pandemic from the United States, Japan, and Israel

40 Pages Posted: 4 May 2020

See all articles by Adam Chilton

Adam Chilton

University of Chicago - Law School

Kevin L. Cope

University of Virginia School of Law

Charles Crabtree

University of Michigan - Political Science, Students

Mila Versteeg

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: May 2, 2020

Abstract

Democratic governments around the world have taken dramatic steps to halt the spread of COVID-19. These steps have prevented new infections and deaths, but they have also entailed unprecedented restrictions on civil liberties. Navigating this tradeoff between security and liberty is particularly difficult for democracies because they need to maintain public support for their policies and are constrained by their constitutions. We administered surveys to nationally representative samples in three economically advanced democracies—the United States, Japan, and Israel—to assess the extent to which the public supports liberty restrictions designed to combat COVID-19. We found consistent and widespread support for policies restricting civil liberties across all three countries. We also experimentally manipulated information about (1) the constitutionality of these policies and (2) the infections they would prevent, finding evidence that respondents’ support for restrictions on civil liberties may depend more on their effectiveness than their legality.

Keywords: COVID-19, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Law, Public Opinion

Suggested Citation

Chilton, Adam and Cope, Kevin L. and Crabtree, Charles and Versteeg, Mila, Support for Restricting Liberty for Safety: Evidence During the COVID-19 Pandemic from the United States, Japan, and Israel (May 2, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3591270 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3591270

Adam Chilton (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.adamchilton.org

Kevin L. Cope

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
WB345
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.kevinlcope.com

Charles Crabtree

University of Michigan - Political Science, Students ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

Mila Versteeg

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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