COVID-19 Crisis Fuels Hostility against Foreigners
55 Pages Posted: 5 May 2020 Last revised: 19 Jun 2020
Date Written: June 18, 2020
Aggressive behavior against out-group members often rises during periods of economic hardship and health pandemics. Here, we test the widespread concern that the COVID-19 crisis may fuel hostility against people from other nations or ethnic minorities. Using a controlled money-burning task, we elicited hostile behavior among a nationally representative sample (n=2,186) in the Czech Republic, at a time when the entire population was under lockdown. We provide causal evidence that exogenously elevating salience of the COVID-19 crisis magnifies hostility against foreigners. This behavioral response is similar across various demographic sub-groups. The results underscore the importance of not inflaming anti-foreigner sentiments and suggest that efforts to restore international trade and cooperation will need to address both social and economic damage.
Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic, scapegoating, hostility, inter-group conflict, discrimination, experiment
JEL Classification: C90, D01, D63, D91, J15
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation