NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
loading...

Polarization and Public Health: Partisan Differences in Social Distancing during the Coronavirus Pandemic

Hunt Allcott, Levi Boxell, Jacob C. Conway, Matthew Gentzkow, Michael Thaler, David Y. Yang

NBER Working Paper No. 26946
Issued in April 2020, Revised in August 2020
NBER Program(s):Health Care, Health Economics, Labor Studies, Public Economics, Political Economy

We study partisan differences in Americans’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Political leaders and media outlets on the right and left have sent divergent messages about the severity of the crisis, which could impact the extent to which Republicans and Democrats engage in social distancing and other efforts to reduce disease transmission. We develop a simple model of a pandemic response with heterogeneous agents that clarifies the causes and consequences of heterogeneous responses. We use location data from a large sample of smartphones to show that areas with more Republicans engaged in less social distancing, controlling for other factors including public policies, population density, and local COVID cases and deaths. We then present new survey evidence of significant gaps at the individual level between Republicans and Democrats in self-reported social distancing, beliefs about personal COVID risk, and beliefs about the future severity of the pandemic.

download in pdf format
   (4372 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26946

Published: Hunt Allcott & Levi Boxell & Jacob Conway & Matthew Gentzkow & Michael Thaler & David Yang, 2020. "Polarization and Public Health: Partisan Differences in Social Distancing during the Coronavirus Pandemic," Journal of Public Economics, .

 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us