Lives or Livelihoods? Perceived Tradeoffs and Public Demand for Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions

Publikation: Working paperForskning

We study the role of cost-benefit considerations in driving public acceptance of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a large-scale online survey experiment with a representative sample of the US population, we introduce exogenous variation in the perceived economic costs and health benefits of shutdown measures by informing a random half of our sample about relevant research evidence. We find that a one standard deviation decrease in perceived economic costs (increase in perceived health benefits) of shutdown measures increases the preferred shutdown length by 13 (11) days. These effects are substantial, corresponding to two times the effect of having a COVID at-risk condition and to approximately half of the Democrat-Republican difference in the support of NPIs. Individuals with an acute and immediate personal exposure to the crisis, either in the form of health at-risk conditions or job loss, however, are less responsive to cost-benefit considerations. Our results provide insights into the mechanisms determining public acceptance of pandemic response measures.
Antal sider48
StatusUdgivet - 26 maj 2020
NavnCEBI Working Paper Series


  • COVID-19, non-pharmaceutical interventions, beliefs, tradeoffs

ID: 248805268