Determinants of Voluntary Compliance: COVID-19 Mitigation
26 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2020 Last revised: 8 Oct 2020
Date Written: September 28, 2020
During the pre-vaccine period, the success of containing the spread of COVID-19 depends upon how communities respond to non-pharmaceutical mitigation policies such as social distancing, wearing of masks, retail and dining constraints, crowd limitation, and shelter-in-place orders. Of these policies, shelter-in-place and social distancing are of central importance. By using county-level mobility data as a measure of a community’s voluntary compliance with social distancing policies, this study found that counties who received strong state social distancing policy directives and who had a high pro-social character showed lower mobility (better social distancing) after states reopened from shelter-in-place orders. Counties that experienced a longer duration of shelter-in-place orders showed higher mobility (less social distancing), implying that the duration of the shelter-in-place order deteriorated social distancing response after reopening. This may be because reopening sent a “safe” signal to these counties or resulted in a response to the pent-up demand inducing higher mobility. The results indicate that implementing shelter-in-place and social distancing policies to slow down the transmission of COVID-19 were not necessarily effective in motivating a county to reduce mobility voluntarily. A county’s pro-social character and the duration of shelter-in-place order should be considered when designing COVID-19 mitigation policies.
Keywords: COVID-19, Mitigation, Social Distancing, Shelter-in-Place, Pro-social Characteristics
JEL Classification: D91, H12, H41, I12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation