Wind of Change? Experimental Survey Evidence on the COVID-19 Shock and Socio-Political Attitudes in Europe
83 Pages Posted: 14 Aug 2020
Date Written: August 11, 2020
This paper investigates whether the COVID-19 crisis has aﬀected the way we vote and think about politics, as well as our broader attitudes and underlying value systems. We ﬁelded large online survey experiments in Italy, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands, well into the ﬁrst wave of the epidemic (May-June), and included outcome questions on trust, voting intentions, policies & taxation, and identity & values. With a randomised survey ﬂow we vary whether respondents are given COVID-19 priming questions ﬁrst, before answering the outcome questions. With this treatment design we can also disentangle the health and economic eﬀects of the crisis, as well as a potential “rally around the ﬂag” component. We ﬁnd that the crisis has brought about severe drops in interpersonal and institutional trust, as well as lower support for the EU and social welfare spending ﬁnanced by taxes. This is largely due to economic anxiety rather than health concerns. A rallying eﬀect around (scientiﬁc) expertise combined with populist policies losing ground forms the other side of this coin, and hints at a rising demand for competent leadership.
Keywords: D72, H51, H53, H55, O52, P52
JEL Classification: COVID-19, Social Trust, Institutional Trust, Survey Experiment, European Union, Welfare, Health, Tax
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