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

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

Nina Weber

King's College London ( email )

Strand
London, England WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.kcl.ac.uk/people/nina-weber

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