The Health of Democracies During the Pandemic: Results from a Randomized Survey Experiment
Concerns have been raised about the “demise of democracy”, possibly accelerated by pandemic-related restrictions. Using a survey experiment involving 8,206 respondents from five Western democracies, we find that subjects randomly exposed to information regarding civil liberties infringements undertaken by China and South Korea to contain COVID-19 became less willing to sacrifice rights and more worried about their long-term-erosion. However, our treatment did not increase support for democratic procedures more generally, despite our prior evidence that pandemic-related health risks diminished such support. These results suggest that the start of the COVID-19 crisis was a particularly vulnerable time for democracies.
Funding provided by Harvard Kennedy School, the Harvard Economics Department, and Foundations of Human Behavior at Harvard. The study is approved by IRB at Harvard University (IRB-20-0495 and IRB20-0467) and registered at AEA-RCT registry (Alsan et al., 2020a). The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Marcella Alsan & Luca Braghieri & Sarah Eichmeyer & Minjeong Joyce Kim & Stefanie Stantcheva & David Y. Yang, 2023. "The Health of Democracies during the Pandemic: Results from a Randomized Survey Experiment," AEA Papers and Proceedings, vol 113, pages 572-576. citation courtesy of