Are Happier People More Compliant? Global Evidence from Three Large-Scale Surveys During Covid-19 Lockdowns

69 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2020

See all articles by Christian Krekel

Christian Krekel

London School of Economics; London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Sarah Swanke

London School of Economics

Jan‐Emmanuel De Neve

University of Oxford

Daisy Fancourt

University College London

Abstract

Around the world, governments have been asking their citizens to practice physical distancing and stay at home to contain the spread of Covid-19. Are happier people more willing to comply with these measures? Using three independent surveys covering over 119,000 adult respondents across 35 countries, including longitudinal data from the UK, we test competing psychological theories, and find that past and present happiness predicts compliance during lockdown. The relationship is stronger for those with higher levels of happiness. A negative mood, or loss in happiness, predicts lower compliance. We explore risk-avoidance and pro-social motivations for compliance, and find that these are not uniform but dependent on personal characteristics and context: people who are older or have certain medical preconditions seem to be predominantly motivated by risk-avoidance, whereas motivations of people who are less at risk of Covid-19 seem more mixed. Our findings have implications for policy design, targeting, and communication.

Keywords: COVID-19, lockdown compliance, happiness, mood maintenance, risk-avoidance, pro-sociality

JEL Classification: I31, D91, I12

Suggested Citation

Krekel, Christian and Swanke, Sarah and De Neve, Jan-Emmanuel and Fancourt, Daisy, Are Happier People More Compliant? Global Evidence from Three Large-Scale Surveys During Covid-19 Lockdowns. IZA Discussion Paper No. 13690, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3691403 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3691403

Christian Krekel (Contact Author)

London School of Economics

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) ( email )

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Sarah Swanke

London School of Economics

United Kingdom

Jan-Emmanuel De Neve

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Daisy Fancourt

University College London

Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

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