The Role of Statistical Literacy in Risk Perceptions and Behavior During the COVID-19 Pandemic

63 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2020 Last revised: 17 Nov 2020

See all articles by Daniel Metzger

Daniel Metzger

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI); London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Financial Markets Group

Mikael Paaso

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

Vesa Pursiainen

University of St. Gallen

Date Written: October 20, 2020

Abstract

We study the role of statistical literacy in interpreting COVID-19-related information, assessments of infection risk, and compliance with mobility restrictions. Using a large-scale panel survey of about 4,000 Dutch households, we find that more statistically literate people adjust their risk estimates more strongly to the actual infection risk, measured by the current number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in their home province. They are also generally more likely to socially distance, less concerned about their own infection risk, and more concerned about infecting others, especially vulnerable populations such as the elderly. We also find that more statistically literate people generally consider a flu shot more important, potentially suggesting a more positive attitude toward vaccines.

Keywords: statistical literacy, COVID-19, risk estimates, social distancing, vaccines, health attitudes, communication

JEL Classification: D84, I12, I18, I20

Suggested Citation

Metzger, Daniel and Paaso, Mikael and Pursiainen, Vesa, The Role of Statistical Literacy in Risk Perceptions and Behavior During the COVID-19 Pandemic (October 20, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3715926 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3715926

Daniel Metzger

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
Room T08-21
3000 DR Rotterdam, 3000 DR
Netherlands

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels
Belgium

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Financial Markets Group ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Mikael Paaso

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) ( email )

Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
3000 DR Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland 3062PA
Netherlands

Vesa Pursiainen (Contact Author)

University of St. Gallen ( email )

Swiss Institute of Banking and Finance
Unterer Graben 21
St.Gallen, 9000
Switzerland

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