Public Attention and Policy Responses to COVID-19 Pandemic

25 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2020

See all articles by Cevat Giray Aksoy

Cevat Giray Aksoy

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; King’s College London; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Early non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI) significantly reduced the death toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, there are vast differences in how quickly governments implemented NPIs. In this paper, we analyze the role of public attention, measured as the share of daily Google searches in a country related to COVID-19, in the timing of the NPI responses. We first show that public attention depends strongly on whether there are cases in own country. We then show that countries with high levels of public attention are more likely to implement NPIs, even after controlling for the number of cases and deaths. Finally, we show that the extent to which a government responds to public attention is highly dependent on the country's institutional quality. The positive effect of public attention on policy implementation is driven entirely by countries with good institutions.

JEL Classification: D72, D78, D83, H12, I18

Suggested Citation

Aksoy, Cevat Giray, Public Attention and Policy Responses to COVID-19 Pandemic. IZA Discussion Paper No. 13427, Available at SSRN: or

Cevat Giray Aksoy (Contact Author)

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development ( email )

One Exchange Square
London EC2A 2JN
United Kingdom

King’s College London ( email )

London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

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