When Norms Collide: The Effect of Religious Holidays on Compliance with COVID Guidelines
35 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2020
Date Written: October 29, 2020
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, this paper investigates the effect of a shift in social/religious norms on compliance behaviour. Religion-based norms of behaviour have the potential to counteract newly established norms of health-preserving behaviours. One such event occurred during the Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations, which were particularly problematic for Muslim-majority populations. We study the impact of such an event on compliance behaviour in one country – Pakistan – and find that, in a large sample of University students, compliance declines immediately after the religious holiday. Our effects are identified by unprompted delays in fielding a survey measuring compliance with prescribed behaviours. We report a decline in compliance, with no observable decline in other well documented predictors of compliance behaviours (that is, risk perceptions, or trust in the authorities). We find that this decline in compliance is largely attributable to male participants, with one important exception. We further confirm our results by conducting robustness checks incorporating matching techniques.
Keywords: Coronavirus, Eid Effect, Compliance, Social norms, Gender Differentiation, Pakistan
JEL Classification: B55, C22, C99, D84, D91, Z1
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