Does Precise Case Information Limit Precautionary Behavior? Evidence from COVID-19 in Singapore

25 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2020

See all articles by Aljoscha Janssen

Aljoscha Janssen

Singapore Management University; Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)

Matthew H. Shapiro

Singapore Management University - School of Economics

Date Written: June 18, 2020

Abstract

Limiting the spread of contagious diseases can involve both government-managed and voluntary efforts. Governments have a number of policy options beyond direct intervention that can shape individuals’ responses to a pandemic and its associated costs. During its first wave of COVID-19 cases, Singapore was among a few countries that attempted to adjust behavior through the public provision of detailed case information. Singapore's Ministry of Health maintained and shared precise, daily information detailing local travel behavior and residences of COVID-19 cases. We use this transparency policy along with device-level cellphone data to quantify how local and national COVID-19 case announcements trigger differential behavioral changes. We find evidence that individuals are three times more responsive to outbreaks in granularly defined locales. Conditional on keeping infection rates at a manageable level, the results suggest economic value in this type of transparency by mitigating precautionary activity reductions.

Keywords: COVID-19, Transparency, Precautionary behavior

JEL Classification: H12, I18, R50

Suggested Citation

Janssen, Aljoscha and Shapiro, Matthew H., Does Precise Case Information Limit Precautionary Behavior? Evidence from COVID-19 in Singapore (June 18, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3630173 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3630173

Aljoscha Janssen (Contact Author)

Singapore Management University ( email )

Li Ka Shing Library
70 Stamford Road
Singapore 178901, 178899
Singapore

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

Matthew H. Shapiro

Singapore Management University - School of Economics ( email )

90 Stamford Road
178903
Singapore

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