When Distrust Goes Viral – Causal Eﬀects of Covid-19 on European Political Attitudes
43 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2020
Date Written: December 16, 2020
To investigate how Covid-19 is shaping the way Europeans think about politicians and institutions, we conducted a large online survey experiment in Italy, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands during the ﬁrst wave of the epidemic (June). We included outcome questions on trust, voting intentions, redistribution, and the EU. With a randomised survey ﬂow we varied whether respondents are given Covid-related treatment questions ﬁrst, before answering the outcome questions. With this design we can separate the health and economic dimensions of the crisis, as well as a potential ‘rally around the ﬂag’ component. We ﬁnd that the crisis has severely undermined trust in institutions and the media, and has eroded support for the EU and social welfare spending ﬁnanced by taxes. This is mainly due to economic insecurity, but also because of health concerns. A rallying eﬀect around (scientiﬁc) expertise combined with populist policies losing ground forms the other side of this coin, and suggests a rising demand for competent leadership.
Keywords: Covid-19 , Institutional Trust, Political Attitudes, Online Survey Experiment, European Union, Welfare, Taxation, Populism
JEL Classification: D72, H51, H53, H55, O52, P52
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