Moral Force: Leaders' Actions and Social Distancing

31 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2020 Last revised: 15 Mar 2021

See all articles by Federico Niccoló Daverio Occhini

Federico Niccoló Daverio Occhini

Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE)

María Montoya-Aguirre

Paris School of Economics

L. Guillermo Woo-Mora

Paris School of Economics (PSE)

Date Written: March 14, 2021

Abstract

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders' actions can influence whether individuals stay at home or ignore social distancing orders. Mexican president López Obrador held public events in different states of the country during the health emergency. This paper studies whether his example of contravening social distancing recommendations increases mobility rates. Using mobility data from UNDP-GRANDATA and a generalized event study design, we find that AMLO's public appearances increased mobility rates in the municipalities of the states he visited in the days following the events. Furthermore, using electoral data from the 2018 presidential election, we also find that mobility rates increase in municipalities where his political support is high after the president's events. We find that media coverage is the primary mechanism driving our results. Lastly, in the pandemic's advanced stages, the president's example does not affect mobility. The results suggest that leaders' actions are relevant to influence decisions when individuals have limited information.

Keywords: Leadership, COVID-19, Social Norms, Risky Behavior, Social Distancing, Mexico

JEL Classification: D7, I12, Z13

Suggested Citation

Daverio Occhini, Federico Niccoló and Montoya-Aguirre, María and Woo-Mora, L. Guillermo, Moral Force: Leaders' Actions and Social Distancing (March 14, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3678980 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3678980

Federico Niccoló Daverio Occhini

Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) ( email )

Mexico

María Montoya-Aguirre

Paris School of Economics ( email )

Paris
France

L. Guillermo Woo-Mora (Contact Author)

Paris School of Economics (PSE) ( email )

Paris
France

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