COVID-19 and People's Health-Wealth Preferences: Information Effects and Policy Implications

58 Pages Posted: 20 May 2020

See all articles by Shaun P. Hargreaves Heap

Shaun P. Hargreaves Heap

University of East Anglia (UEA) - School of Economic and Social Studies

Christel Koop

King's College London

Konstantinos Matakos

King's College London, Dept. of Political Economy

Asli Unan

King's College London; Humboldt University of Berlin

Nina Weber

King's College London

Date Written: May 19, 2020

Abstract

Policy makers responding to COVID-19 need to know people’s relative valuation of health over wealth. Loosening and tightening lockdowns moves a society along a (perceived) health-wealth trade-off and the associated changes have to accord with the public’s relative valuation of health and wealth for maximum compliance. In our survey experiment (N=4,618), we randomize information provision on economic and health costs to assess public preferences over this trade-off in the UK and the US. People strongly prioritize health over wealth, but the treatment effects suggest these priorities will change as experience of COVID-19 deaths and income losses evolves. Information also has heterogeneous/polarizing effects. These results encourage policy caution. Individual differences in health-wealth valuation highlight this study’s importance because they map onto compliance with current lockdown measures.

Keywords: COVID-19, health-wealth trade-off, information, value of life, lockdown, policy compliance

JEL Classification: C90, D78, D84, D91, H12, I12, J17

Suggested Citation

Hargreaves Heap, Shaun and Koop, Christel and Matakos, Konstantinos and Unan, Asli and Weber, Nina, COVID-19 and People's Health-Wealth Preferences: Information Effects and Policy Implications (May 19, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3605003 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3605003

Shaun Hargreaves Heap (Contact Author)

University of East Anglia (UEA) - School of Economic and Social Studies ( email )

Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7TJ
United Kingdom
+44 (0)1603 593417 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.uea.ac.uk/soc/econ/people/hargreavesheap_s.shtml

Christel Koop

King's College London ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Konstantinos Matakos

King's College London, Dept. of Political Economy ( email )

Strand Campus
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/kostasmatakos/

Asli Unan

King's College London ( email )

Strand
London, England WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

Humboldt University of Berlin ( email )

Unter den Linden 6
6
Berlin, 10117
Germany

Nina Weber

King's College London ( email )

Strand
London, England WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

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

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