Covid-19 Crisis Fuels Hostility Against Foreigners
57 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2020
Date Written: June 2020
Aggressive behavior against out-group members often rises during periods of economic hardship and health pandemics. Here we test the widespread concern that the Covid-19 crisis may fuel hostility against people from other nations or ethnic minorities. Using a controlled money-burning task, we elicited hostile behavior among a nationally representative sample (n=2,186) in the Czech Republic, at a time when the entire population was under lockdown. We provide causal evidence that exogenously elevating salience of Covid-related thoughts magnifies hostility against foreigners – people living in the EU, the USA and especially Asia. This behavioral response is large in magnitude and holds across various demographic sub-groups. At the same time, we find virtually no effects on behavior towards domestic out-groups, including minorities and migrants. The results underscore the importance of not inflaming anti-foreigner sentiments and suggest that efforts to restore international trade and cooperation will need to address both social and economic damage.
Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic, scapegoating, hostility, inter-group conflict, discrimination, experiment
JEL Classification: C900, D010, D630, D910, J150
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation