The Political Scar of Epidemics
98 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2020
Date Written: June 2020
What political legacy can we expect from the Coronavirus pandemic? Drawing evidence from past epidemics, we find that epidemic exposure in an individual’s “impressionable years” (ages 18 to 25) has a persistent negative effect on confidence in political institutions and leaders, but not in other institutions or individuals. We find similar negative effects on confidence in public health systems however, suggesting that the loss of confidence in political institutions and leaders is associated with healthcare-related policies. In line with this argument, our results are mostly driven by individuals who experienced epidemics under weak governments with less capacity to act against the epidemic, disappointing their citizens. We provide evidence of this mechanism by showing that weak governments took longer to introduce policy interventions in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. These results imply that the Coronavirus may leave behind a long-lasting political scar on the current young generation (“Generation Z”).
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation