Trust and Compliance to Public Health Policies in Times of Covid-19

23 Pages Posted: 14 May 2020 Last revised: 19 May 2022

See all articles by Olivier Bargain

Olivier Bargain

University of Bordeaux

Ulugbek Aminjonov

University of Bordeaux


While degraded trust and cohesion within a country are often shown to have large socioeconomic impacts, they can also have dramatic consequences when compliance is required for collective survival. We illustrate this point in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. Policy responses all over the world aim to reduce social interaction and limit contagion. Using data on human mobility and political trust at regional level in Europe, we examine whether the compliance to these containment policies depends on the level of trust in policy makers prior to the crisis. Using a double difference approach around the time of lockdown announcements, we find that high-trust regions decrease their mobility related to non-necessary activities significantly more than low-trust regions. We also exploit country and time variation in treatment using the daily strictness of national policies. The efficiency of policy stringency in terms of mobility reduction significantly increases with trust. The trust effect is nonlinear and increases with the degree of stringency. We assess how the impact of trust on mobility potentially translates in terms of mortality growth rate.

Keywords: policy stringency, political trust, COVID-19

JEL Classification: E71, H12, I12, I18, Z18

Suggested Citation

Bargain, Olivier and Aminjonov, Ulugbek, Trust and Compliance to Public Health Policies in Times of Covid-19. IZA Discussion Paper No. 13205, Available at SSRN:

Olivier Bargain (Contact Author)

University of Bordeaux ( email )

Avenue Léon Duguit
Bordeaux, 33000

Ulugbek Aminjonov

University of Bordeaux ( email )

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