Anticipation of COVID-19 Vaccines Reduces Social Distancing

47 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2021

See all articles by Ola Andersson

Ola Andersson

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN); Uppsala University - Department of Economics

Pol Campos-Mercade

University of Copenhagen

Armando Meier

University of Lausanne and University of Basel

Erik Wengström

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics

Date Written: December 21, 2020

Abstract

We show that the anticipation of COVID-19 vaccines reduces voluntary social distancing. In a large-scale preregistered survey experiment with a representative sample, we study whether providing information about the safety, effectiveness, and availability of COVID- 19 vaccines affects compliance with public health guidelines. We find that vaccine information reduces peoples’ voluntary social distancing, adherence to hygiene guidelines, and their willingness to stay at home. Vaccine information induces people to believe in a swifter return to normal life and puts their vigilance at ease. The results indicate an important behavioral drawback of the successful vaccine development: An increased focus on vaccines can lead to bad health behaviors and accelerate the spread of the virus. The results imply that, as vaccinations start and the end of the pandemic feels closer, existing policies aimed at increasing social distancing will be less effective and stricter policies might be required.

Keywords: Economic epidemiology; Social distancing; Vaccination; Information

JEL Classification: I12; I18; D83; D91

Suggested Citation

Andersson, Ola and Campos-Mercade, Pol and Meier, Armando and Wengström, Erik, Anticipation of COVID-19 Vaccines Reduces Social Distancing (December 21, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3765329 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3765329

Ola Andersson (Contact Author)

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden
+46 (0)8-665 45 21 (Phone)
+46 8-665 45 99 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ifn.se/medarbetare/forskare/ola-andersson

Uppsala University - Department of Economics ( email )

Box 513
Uppsala, 751 20
Sweden

Pol Campos-Mercade

University of Copenhagen ( email )

Nørregade 10
Copenhagen, København DK-1165
Denmark

Armando Meier

University of Lausanne and University of Basel ( email )

Erik Wengström

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics ( email )

Øster Farimagsgade 5
Bygning 26
1353 Copenhagen K.
Denmark

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.ku.dk/wengstrom

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