Divided We Stay Home: Social Distancing and Ethnic Diversity

46 Pages Posted: 26 May 2020 Last revised: 19 Jun 2020

See all articles by Georgy Egorov

Georgy Egorov

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management; NBER

Ruben Enikolopov

Institute of Political Economy and Governance; New Economic School; ICREA; Universitat Pompeu Fabra; Barcelona GSE

Alexey Makarin

Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Maria Petrova

Barcelona Graduate School of Economics (Barcelona GSE)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 18, 2020

Abstract

Voluntary social distancing plays a vital role in containing the spread of the disease during a pandemic. As a public good, it should be more commonplace in more homogeneous and altruistic societies. However, for healthy people, social distancing offers private benefits, too. If sick people are more likely to stay home, healthy ones have fewer incentives to do so, especially if asymptomatic transmission is perceived to be unlikely. Theoretically, we show that this interplay may lead to stricter observance of social distancing guidelines in more diverse, less altruistic societies. Empirically, we find that, consistent with the model, mobility reduction following the first local case of COVID-19 was stronger in Russian cities with higher ethnic fractionalization and cities with higher levels of xenophobia. For identification, we predict the timing of the first case using preexisting patterns of internal migration to Moscow. Using SafeGraph data on mobility patterns, we confirm that mobility reduction in the United States was also higher in counties with higher ethnic fractionalization. Our findings highlight the importance of strategic incentives of different population groups for the effectiveness of public policy.

Keywords: COVID-19, pandemic, social distancing, quarantine, ethnic fractionalization, diversity, xenophobia, Russia

JEL Classification: D64, D74, I12

Suggested Citation

Egorov, Georgy and Enikolopov, Ruben and Makarin, Alexey and Petrova, Maria, Divided We Stay Home: Social Distancing and Ethnic Diversity (June 18, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3609527 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3609527

Georgy Egorov

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

NBER ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Ruben Enikolopov

Institute of Political Economy and Governance ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Barcelona, 08005
Spain

New Economic School ( email )

Skolkovskoe shosse 45
Moscow, Skolkovo 143026
Russia

ICREA ( email )

Passeig LluĂ­s Companys, 23
Barcelona, 08010
Spain

Universitat Pompeu Fabra ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Barcelona, E-08005
Spain

Barcelona GSE ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Barcelona, Barcelona 08005
Spain

Alexey Makarin (Contact Author)

Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF)

Via Sallustiana, 62
Rome, Lazio 00187
Italy

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Maria Petrova

Barcelona Graduate School of Economics (Barcelona GSE) ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Barcelona, Barcelona 08005
Spain

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