The Disastrous Effects of Leaders in Denial: Evidence from the COVID-19 Crisis in Brazil

32 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2021 Last revised: 22 Aug 2021

See all articles by Sandro Cabral

Sandro Cabral

Insper Institute of Education and Research; Federal University of Bahia (UFBA)

Nobuiuki Ito

Ibmec, Rio de Janeiro - IBMEC Business School

Leandro Pongeluppe

University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management

Date Written: April 28, 2021

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the critical role of political leaders in influencing social behavior. Leaders in denial contributed to different outcomes regarding virus transmission. Mr. Jair Bolsonaro is the archetype of a leader in denial. The current president of Brazil made a sequence of television and radio speeches downplaying the severity of COVID-19 pandemic. The content of Mr. Bolsonaro's communications minimized the disease's effects, disregarded the importance of social distance, and stimulated the adoption of treatments without scientific proof of efficacy. Our analysis reveals different responses of the population to Mr. Bolsonaro's speeches. Municipalities in which Mr. Bolsonaro received the majority of votes in 2018 presidential election are more affected by COVID-19 cases and related deaths. This paper associates the denialist attitude of national leadership with his supporters' riskier behavior, leading to disastrous results in terms of lives lost.

Keywords: COVID; leaders in denial

JEL Classification: H40; H41

Suggested Citation

Cabral, Sandro and Ito, Nobuiuki and Pongeluppe, Leandro, The Disastrous Effects of Leaders in Denial: Evidence from the COVID-19 Crisis in Brazil (April 28, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3836147 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3836147

Sandro Cabral (Contact Author)

Insper Institute of Education and Research ( email )

R Quata 300
Sao Paulo, 04542-030
Brazil

Federal University of Bahia (UFBA) ( email )

Av. Reitor Miguel Calmon, s/n
Vale do Canela
Salvador, Bahia
Brazil

Nobuiuki Ito

Ibmec, Rio de Janeiro - IBMEC Business School ( email )

SCN Quadra 2, Bloco A, 2nd. floor
Ed. Corporate Financial Center
Brasília, 707712-900
Brazil

Leandro Pongeluppe

University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management ( email )

Toronto, ON
Canada

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
4,690
Abstract Views
14,003
rank
2,350
PlumX Metrics