Comparative Experimental Evidence on Compliance with Social Distancing During the Covid-19 Pandemic

30 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2020

See all articles by Michael Becher

Michael Becher

Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse

Daniel Stegmueller

Duke University - Department of Political Science

Sylvain Brouard

Sciences Po - Center for Political Research (CEVIPOF)

Eric Kerrouche

Sciences Po - Center for Political Research (CEVIPOF)

Date Written: July 14, 2020

Abstract

Social distancing is a central public health measure in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, but individuals’ compliance cannot be taken for granted. We use a survey experiment to examine the prevalence of non-compliance with social distancing in nine countries and test pre-registered hypotheses about individual-level characteristics associated with less social distancing. Leveraging a list experiment to control for social desirability bias, we find large cross-national variation in adherence to social distancing guidelines. Compliance varies systematically with COVID-19 fatalities and the strictness of lockdown measures. We also find substantial heterogeneity in the role of individual-level predictors. While there is an ideological gap in social distancing in the US and New Zealand, this is not the case in European countries. Taken together, our results suggest caution when trying to model pandemic health policies on other countries’ experiences. Behavioral interventions targeted towards specific demographics that work in one context might fail in another.

Keywords: health policy, compliance, SARS-CoV2, list experiment

Suggested Citation

Becher, Michael and Stegmueller, Daniel and Brouard, Sylvain and Kerrouche, Eric, Comparative Experimental Evidence on Compliance with Social Distancing During the Covid-19 Pandemic (July 14, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3652543 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3652543

Michael Becher

Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse ( email )

31015 Toulouse, Cedex 6
France

HOME PAGE: http://www.iast.fr/people/michael-becher

Daniel Stegmueller (Contact Author)

Duke University - Department of Political Science ( email )

140 Science Drive (Gross Hall), 2nd floor
Duke University Mailcode: 90204
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.duke.edu/stegmueller/

Sylvain Brouard

Sciences Po - Center for Political Research (CEVIPOF) ( email )

98 rue de l'Université
Paris, 75007
France

Eric Kerrouche

Sciences Po - Center for Political Research (CEVIPOF) ( email )

98 rue de l'Université
Paris, 75007
France

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