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
Date Written: June 23, 2020
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: Suggested Citation