Global Behaviors and Perceptions at the Onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic

47 Pages Posted: 5 May 2020 Last revised: 11 May 2020

See all articles by Thiemo Fetzer

Thiemo Fetzer

University of Warwick

Marc Witte

New York University (NYU) - New York University Abu Dhabi

Lukas Hensel

University of Oxford

Jon Jachimowicz

Harvard University - Organizational Behavior Unit

Johannes Haushofer

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

Andriy Ivchenko

Expilab Research S.L.

Stefano Caria

University of Bristol

Elena Reutskaja

Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Faculty of Economic and Business Sciences

Christopher Roth

University of Warwick, Faculty of Social Studies, Department of Economics, Students

Stefano Fiorin

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - UC San Diego

Margarita Gómez

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Gordon Kraft-Todd

Boston College

Friedrich Götz

University of Cambridge

Erez Yoeli

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); Harvard University - Program for Evolutionary Dynamics

Date Written: May 2020

Abstract

We conducted a large-scale survey covering 58 countries and over 100,000 respondents between late March and early April 2020 to study beliefs and attitudes towards citizens’ and governments’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most respondents reacted strongly to the crisis: they report engaging in social distancing and hygiene behaviors, and believe that strong policy measures, such as shop closures and curfews, are necessary. They also believe that their government and their country’s citizens are not doing enough and underestimate the degree to which others in their country support strong behavioral and policy responses to the pandemic. The perception of a weak government and public response is associated with higher levels of worries and depression. Using both cross-country panel data and an event-study, we additionally show that strong government reactions correct misperceptions, and reduce worries and depression. Our findings highlight that policy-makers not only need to consider how their decisions affect the spread of COVID-19, but also how such choices influence the mental health of their population.

Suggested Citation

Fetzer, Thiemo and Witte, Marc and Hensel, Lukas and Jachimowicz, Jon and Haushofer, Johannes and Ivchenko, Andriy and Caria, Stefano and Reutskaja, Elena and Roth, Christopher and Fiorin, Stefano and Gómez, Margarita and Kraft-Todd, Gordon and Götz, Friedrich and Yoeli, Erez, Global Behaviors and Perceptions at the Onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic (May 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w27082, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3592159

Thiemo Fetzer (Contact Author)

University of Warwick ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, West Midlands CV4 8UW
United Kingdom

Marc Witte

New York University (NYU) - New York University Abu Dhabi

Lukas Hensel

University of Oxford ( email )

South Parks Road
Oxford, OX1 3QZ
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/view/lukashenseleconomics

Jon Jachimowicz

Harvard University - Organizational Behavior Unit ( email )

Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Johannes Haushofer

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs ( email )

Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

Andriy Ivchenko

Expilab Research S.L. ( email )

Barcelona, 08034
Spain

Stefano Caria

University of Bristol ( email )

University of Bristol,
Senate House, Tyndall Avenue
Bristol, BS8 ITH
United Kingdom

Elena Reutskaja

Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Faculty of Economic and Business Sciences ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas 25-27
Barcelona, 08005
Spain

Christopher Roth

University of Warwick, Faculty of Social Studies, Department of Economics, Students ( email )

Coventry, CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

Stefano Fiorin

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - UC San Diego ( email )

9500 Gilman Dr., 0519
La Jolla, CA 92093-0519
United States

Margarita Gómez

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Gordon Kraft-Todd

Boston College

Friedrich Götz

University of Cambridge

Trinity Ln
Cambridge, CB2 1TN
United Kingdom

Erez Yoeli

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

Harvard University - Program for Evolutionary Dynamics ( email )

One Brattle Square, Suite 6
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://erezyoeli.com/

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