Blame Avoidance: The Costs of Weak Accountability in a Health Disaster
38 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2021
Date Written: February 22, 2021
Does the politics of blame avoidance among elected public authorities jeopardize policies' compliance and effectiveness to confront health crises in complex government systems? We propose a theoretical framework that explores how blame avoidance games can jeopardize public policies' effectiveness and society compliance when accountability is weak. To address that, we analyze how blame avoidance politics affected the struggle against COVID-19 in Brazil. Lack of strong accountability in a complex federative system led the country to a game of blame avoidance, which worsened compliance with social isolation policies and, thereby, COVID-19 results measured as confirmed cases and deaths of the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV2). Findings show that democracies must strengthen accountability to reduce blame avoidance social costs, including, life losses.
Keywords: COVID-19; blame avoidance; social isolation; Brazil; bolsonarism
JEL Classification: P16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation