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Dutch COVID-19 lockdown measures increased trust in government and trust in science: A difference-in-differences analysis

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  • Oude Groeniger, Joost
  • Noordzij, Kjell
  • van der Waal, Jeroen
  • de Koster, Willem

Abstract

Many governments have implemented strict lockdown measures to prevent the transmission of the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). Compliance with these restrictions is vital and depends greatly on the level of trust in the institutions central to their development and implementation. The objectives of this study were to assess: (1) the effects of the Dutch lockdown measures imposed in March 2020 on trust in government and trust in science; and (2) whether these differ across social groups. We draw on unique data from the high-quality Longitudinal Internet Studies for the Social Sciences panel, which comprises a true probability sample of Dutch households (average participation rate: 80.4%). Our data were collected on an ongoing basis from December 2017 to March 2020 (n = 2219). Using the implementation of lockdown measures in mid-March as a natural experiment, we employed difference-in-differences analyses to assess the causal effect of the Dutch lockdown measures on trust in government and trust in science. We estimated that the imposition of the measures caused an 18% increase (95% confidence interval (CI):15%–21%)) in trust in government and a 6% increase (95% CI: 4%–8%) in trust in science. The impact on trust in government was greater among the participants aged 65 and older and those with poor self-assessed health, although the relevant CIs were wide and, in the case of self-assessed health, included the null. No differential effects were observed for trust in science. Our study indicates that the strict public-health measures imposed in the Netherlands during an acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic generated trust in the institutions involved in drafting and implementing them, especially among those with a higher risk of serious health outcomes. This suggests that, to prevent a major public-health crisis, people appreciate firm government intervention during the acute phase of an infectious disease pandemic.

Suggested Citation

  • Oude Groeniger, Joost & Noordzij, Kjell & van der Waal, Jeroen & de Koster, Willem, 2021. "Dutch COVID-19 lockdown measures increased trust in government and trust in science: A difference-in-differences analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 275(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:275:y:2021:i:c:s0277953621001519
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2021.113819
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Marc J. Hetherington & Jason A. Husser, 2012. "How Trust Matters: The Changing Political Relevance of Political Trust," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 56(2), pages 312-325, April.
    2. Giovanni Bonaccorsi & Francesco Pierri & Matteo Cinelli & Andrea Flori & Alessandro Galeazzi & Francesco Porcelli & Ana Lucia Schmidt & Carlo Michele Valensise & Antonio Scala & Walter Quattrociocchi , 2020. "Economic and social consequences of human mobility restrictions under COVID-19," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 117(27), pages 15530-15535, July.
    3. Thelen,Kathleen, 2014. "Varieties of Liberalization and the New Politics of Social Solidarity," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107679566, July.
    4. Thelen,Kathleen, 2014. "Varieties of Liberalization and the New Politics of Social Solidarity," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107053168, July.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Journal round-up: Social Science & Medicine 275
      by Will Sullivan in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2021-05-10 06:00:13

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