COVID-19 and People's Health-Wealth Preferences: Information Effects and Policy Implications
58 Pages Posted: 20 May 2020
Date Written: May 19, 2020
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: Suggested Citation