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Compliance and stringency measures in response to COVID-19: A regional study


  • Fadi Makki

    (B4Development Foundation, Doha, Qatar)

  • Paola Schietekat Sedas

    (B4Development Foundation, Doha, Qatar)

  • Jana Kontar

    (B4Development Foundation, Doha, Qatar)

  • Nabil Saleh

    (Nudge Lebanon, Beirut, Lebanon)

  • Dario Krpan

    (London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science, London, UK)


The COVID-19 outbreak had a severe impact on governance, individual and collective wellbeing, public health, education, and the economy. The progression of infections in every country varied based on every country's response, particularly its early response, and its capacity to enforce compliance. At the same time, country responses were determined by various factors (political climate, economic capability, social response, as well as demographic factors). This regional study looked at the policy response and COVID-19 daily case progression of 13 MENA countries in order to assess the effectiveness of stringency measures in managing the spread of the virus. This study also looks at the results of a pilot survey administered in the Middle East, as well as data released by the authorities of some of the countries under study, to evaluate compliance. The results show that stringent measures, imposed quickly but not for extended time periods, are most effective in lowering the number of daily infections. However, the success of these policies relies on a country's institutional capacity to enforce compliance. The results from the pilot survey show that, while people whose risk perception of the virus is higher are more likely to comply with preventive behaviors, compliance significantly decreases with time. This has important implications in supporting stringent short-term policies that can be rolled back if accompanied by a comprehensive prevention strategy that harnesses behavioral insights to increase voluntary compliance with preventive measures.

Suggested Citation

  • Fadi Makki & Paola Schietekat Sedas & Jana Kontar & Nabil Saleh & Dario Krpan, 2020. "Compliance and stringency measures in response to COVID-19: A regional study," Journal of Behavioral Economics for Policy, Society for the Advancement of Behavioral Economics (SABE), vol. 4(S2), pages 15-24, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:beh:jbepv1:v:4:y:2020:i:s2:p:15-24

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    Cited by:

    1. Nanath, Krishnadas & Balasubramanian, Sreejith & Shukla, Vinaya & Islam, Nazrul & Kaitheri, Supriya, 2022. "Developing a mental health index using a machine learning approach: Assessing the impact of mobility and lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 178(C).
    2. Alessandro Cascavilla & Rocco Caferra & Andrea Morone, 2023. "The green and the dark side of distance learning: from environmental quality to socioeconomic inequality," Journal of Behavioral Economics for Policy, Society for the Advancement of Behavioral Economics (SABE), vol. 7(2), pages 33-38, December.
    3. Hans J. Czap & Natalia V. Czap, 2022. "Behaviorally-informed framework for encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations," Journal of Behavioral Economics for Policy, Society for the Advancement of Behavioral Economics (SABE), vol. 6(1), pages 21-26, December.
    4. Michelle Baddeley, 2020. "COVID-19 2020: A year of living dangerously," Journal of Behavioral Economics for Policy, Society for the Advancement of Behavioral Economics (SABE), vol. 4(S3), pages 5-9, December.
    5. Jiam Song & Kwangmin Jung & Jonghun Kam, 2023. "Evidence of the time-varying impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on online search activities relating to shopping products in South Korea," Palgrave Communications, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 10(1), pages 1-12, December.

    More about this item


    compliance; stringency index; enforcement; case management; tradeoff;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H80 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - General
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries


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