Moral Suasion and the Private Provision of Public Goods: Evidence from the COVID-19 Pandemic

24 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2020 Last revised: 12 Jun 2020

See all articles by Björn Bos

Björn Bos

University of Hamburg - Faculty of Business, Economics, and Social Sciences, Students

Moritz A. Drupp

University of Hamburg - Faculty of Business, Economics, and Social Sciences

Jasper Meya

Resource Economics Working Group, Humboldt University Berlin; Department of Economics, University of Oldenburg

Martin Quaas

German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

Date Written: June 11, 2020

Abstract

We study how moral suasion that appeals to two major ethical theories, Consequentialism and Deontology, affects individual intentions to contribute to a public good. We use the COVID-19 pandemic as an exemplary case where there is a large gap between private and social costs and where moral suasion has been widely used as a policy instrument. Based on a survey experiment with a representative sample of around 3,500 Germans at the beginning of the pandemic, we study how moral appeals affect contributions with low and high opportunity costs, hand washing and social distancing, to reduce the infection externality as well as the support for governmental regulation. We find that Deontological moral suasion, appealing to individual moral duty, is effective in increasing planned social distancing and hand-washing, while a Consequentialist appeal only increases planned hand-washing. Both appeals increase support for governmental regulation. Exploring heterogeneous treatment effects reveals that younger respondents are more susceptible to Deontological appeals. Our results highlight the potential of moral appeals to induce intended private contributions to a public good or the reduction of externalities, which can help to overcome collective action problems for a range of environmental issues.

Keywords: COVID-19; coronavirus; public good contributions; moral appeal; moral suasion

JEL Classification: C93, D62, D64, H41, I18, Q58

Suggested Citation

Bos, Björn and Drupp, Moritz A. and Meya, Jasper and Quaas, Martin, Moral Suasion and the Private Provision of Public Goods: Evidence from the COVID-19 Pandemic (June 11, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3611579 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3611579

Björn Bos

University of Hamburg - Faculty of Business, Economics, and Social Sciences, Students ( email )

Hamburg
Germany

Moritz A. Drupp (Contact Author)

University of Hamburg - Faculty of Business, Economics, and Social Sciences ( email )

Von-Melle-Park 9
Hamburg, 20146
Germany

Jasper Meya

Resource Economics Working Group, Humboldt University Berlin ( email )

Unter den Linden 6
Berlin, AK Berlin 10099
Germany

Department of Economics, University of Oldenburg ( email )

Oldenburg, D 26111
Germany

Martin Quaas

German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig ( email )

Deutscher Platz 5e
Leipzig, 04103
Germany

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