Coronagraben. Culture and Social Distancing in Times of COVID-19

Journal of Population Economics, Volume 34, pages 1355–1383 (2021)

31 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2020 Last revised: 10 Jan 2022

See all articles by Neha Deopa

Neha Deopa

Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies

Piergiuseppe Fortunato

United Nations - Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

Date Written: June 23, 2020

Abstract

Social distancing measures have been introduced in many countries in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The rate of compliance to these measures has varied substantially. We study how cultural differences can explain this variance using data on mobility in Swiss cantons between January and May 2020. We find that mobility declined after the outbreak but significantly less in the German-speaking region. Contrary to the evidence in the literature, we find that within the Swiss context, higher generalized trust in others is strongly associated with lower reductions in individual mobility. Additionally, support for a limited role of the state in matters of welfare is also found to be negatively associated with mobility reduction. We attribute our results to a combination of these cultural traits having altered the trade-off between the chance of contracting the virus and the costs associated with significant alterations of daily activities.

Keywords: COVID-19, Culture, Social distancing, trust, political attitudes

JEL Classification: H12, Z1, D91

Suggested Citation

Deopa, Neha and Fortunato, Piergiuseppe, Coronagraben. Culture and Social Distancing in Times of COVID-19 (June 23, 2020). Journal of Population Economics, Volume 34, pages 1355–1383 (2021), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3635287 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3635287

Neha Deopa (Contact Author)

Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies ( email )

Chemin Eugène-Rigot 2A
Case postale 1672
Geneva, 1211
Switzerland

Piergiuseppe Fortunato

United Nations - Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) ( email )

Palais des Nations
Office E 8074
Geneva, 1211
Switzerland

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