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Political orientation and adherence to social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy

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  • Paolo Nicola Barbieri

    (University of Gothenburg)

  • Beatrice Bonini

    (Columbia University)

Abstract

Many governments have implemented social distancing and lockdown measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Using province-level geolocation data from Italy, we document that political disbelief can limit government policy effectiveness. Residents in provinces leaning towards extreme right-wing parties show lower rates of compliance with social distancing order. We also find that, during the Italian lockdown, provinces with high protest votes virtually disregarded all social distancing orders. On the contrary, in provinces with higher political support for the current political legislation, we found a higher degree of social distancing compliance. These results are robust to controlling for other factors, including time, geography, local COVID-19 cases and deaths, healthcare hospital beds, and other sociodemographic and economic characteristics. Our research shows that bipartisan support and national responsibility are essential to implement and manage social distancing efficiently. From a broader perspective, our findings suggest that partisan politics and discontent with the political class (i.e., protest voting) might significantly affect human health and the economy.

Suggested Citation

  • Paolo Nicola Barbieri & Beatrice Bonini, 2021. "Political orientation and adherence to social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy," Economia Politica: Journal of Analytical and Institutional Economics, Springer;Fondazione Edison, vol. 38(2), pages 483-504, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:epolit:v:38:y:2021:i:2:d:10.1007_s40888-021-00224-w
    DOI: 10.1007/s40888-021-00224-w
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    2. Bertoli, Paola & Grembi, Veronica & Morelli, Massimo & Rosso, Anna Cecilia, 2023. "In medio stat virtus? Effective communication and preferences for redistribution in hard times," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 214(C), pages 105-147.
    3. Savadori, Lucia & Lauriola, Marco, 2022. "Risk perceptions and COVID-19 protective behaviors: A two-wave longitudinal study of epidemic and post-epidemic periods," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 301(C).
    4. Qi Guo & Palizhati Muhetaer & Ping Hu, 2023. "Cultural worldviews and support for governmental management of COVID-19," Palgrave Communications, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 10(1), pages 1-16, December.
    5. Hee-Seung Yang & Sungjin Kim, 2022. "Trusted Institutions and Policy Compliance: Evidence from COVID-19 Mobility Patterns in Korea," Working papers 2022rwp-206, Yonsei University, Yonsei Economics Research Institute.
    6. Alessandro Gennaro & Matteo Reho & Tiziana Marinaci & Barbara Cordella & Marco Castiglioni & Cristina Liviana Caldiroli & Claudia Venuleo, 2023. "Social Environment and Attitudes toward COVID-19 Anti-Contagious Measures: An Explorative Study from Italy," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 20(4), pages 1-15, February.
    7. Mauro Caselli & Andrea Fracasso & Sergio Scicchitano, 2022. "From the lockdown to the new normal: individual mobility and local labor market characteristics following the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 35(4), pages 1517-1550, October.
    8. Brian Cepparulo, 2022. "The impact of COVID-19 restrictions on economic activity: Evidence from the Italian regional system," French Stata Users' Group Meetings 2022 15, Stata Users Group.
    9. Cepparulo, Brian & Jump, Robert Calvert, 2022. "The impact of Covid-19 restrictions on economic activity: evidence from the Italian regional system," Greenwich Papers in Political Economy 37801, University of Greenwich, Greenwich Political Economy Research Centre.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    COVID-19; Coronavirus; Political belief; Protest vote; Geolocation data;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • P16 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Capitalist Economies - - - Capitalist Institutions; Welfare State
    • C55 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Large Data Sets: Modeling and Analysis
    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations

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