The Impact of Social Capital on Individual Responses to COVID-19 Pandemic: Evidence from Social Distancing
39 Pages Posted: 26 May 2020 Last revised: 15 Jun 2020
Date Written: June 14, 2020
This paper employs the theoretical lens of social capital to examine social distancing behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic. By exploiting daily mobile GPS location data, we provide strong evidence for the diverse effects of the two constituents of social capital, civic norms and social networks, on social distancing. While civic norms have a positive effect, social networks have a negative impact on social distancing as measured by time spent at home. These results are consistent with a nuanced view of social capital: civic norms facilitate cooperation and self-sacrifice for the common good, whereas social networks increase individual embeddedness and hence inertia in maintaining social interactions, resulting in opposite effects on social distancing. Our results contribute to the research at the intersection of social capital and individual ethical behavior and provide valuable insights for policy makers and businesses in dealing with a global pandemic.
Keywords: COVID-19; Stay at Home; Social Distancing; Civic Norms; Social Capital; Social Networks
JEL Classification: A14, G41, K42
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