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Divided We Stay Home: Social Distancing and Ethnic Diversity

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  • Egorov, Georgy
  • Enikolopov, Ruben
  • Makarin, Alexey
  • Petrova, Maria

Abstract

Voluntary social distancing plays a vital role in containing the spread of the disease during a pandemic. As a public good, it should be more commonplace in more homogeneous and altruistic societies. However, for healthy people, observing social distancing has private benefits, too. If sick individuals are more likely to stay home, healthy ones have fewer incentives to do so, especially if the asymptomatic transmission is perceived to be unlikely. Theoretically, we show that this interplay may lead to a stricter observance of social distancing in more diverse and less altruistic societies. Empirically, we find that, consistent with the model, the reduction in mobility following the first local case of COVID-19 was stronger in Russian cities with higher ethnic fractionalization and cities with higher levels of xenophobia. For identification, we predict the timing of the first case using pre-existing patterns of internal migration to Moscow. Using SafeGraph data on mobility patterns, we confirm that mobility reduction in the United States was also higher in counties with higher ethnic fractionalization. Our findings highlight the importance of strategic incentives of different population groups for the effectiveness of public policy.

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  • Egorov, Georgy & Enikolopov, Ruben & Makarin, Alexey & Petrova, Maria, 2020. "Divided We Stay Home: Social Distancing and Ethnic Diversity," CEPR Discussion Papers 14810, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:14810
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    Cited by:

    1. Fazio, Andrea & Reggiani, Tommaso G. & Sabatini, Fabio, 2021. "The Political Cost of Lockdown's Enforcement," IZA Discussion Papers 14032, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Michele Valsecchi & Ruben Durante, 2020. "Internal migration and the spread of Covid-19," Working Papers w0276, New Economic School (NES).
    3. Durante, Ruben & Guiso, Luigi & Gulino, Giorgio, 2021. "Asocial capital: Civic culture and social distancing during COVID-19," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 194(C).
    4. Luca Bonacini & Giovanni Gallo & Fabrizio Patriarca, 2021. "Identifying policy challenges of COVID-19 in hardly reliable data and judging the success of lockdown measures," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 34(1), pages 275-301, January.
    5. Ash, Elliott & Galletta, Sergio & Hangartner, Dominik & Margalit, Yotam & Pinna, Matteo, 2020. "The Effect of Fox News on Health Behavior During COVID-19," SocArXiv abqe5, Center for Open Science.
    6. Zakharov, Nikita, 2020. "The protective effect of smoking against COVID-19: A population-based study using instrumental variables," MPRA Paper 101267, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Maxim Ananyev & Michael Poyker & Yuan Tian, 2021. "The safest time to fly: pandemic response in the era of Fox News," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 34(3), pages 775-802, July.
    8. Andrey Simonov & Szymon Sacher & Jean-Pierre Dube & Shirsho Biswas, 2020. "The Persuasive Effect of Fox News: Non-Compliance with Social Distancing During the COVID-19 Pandemic," Working Papers 2020-67, Becker Friedman Institute for Research In Economics.
    9. Andrey Simonov & Szymon K. Sacher & Jean-Pierre H. Dubé & Shirsho Biswas, 2020. "The Persuasive Effect of Fox News: Non-Compliance with Social Distancing During the Covid-19 Pandemic," NBER Working Papers 27237, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Deiana, Claudio & Geraci, Andrea & Mazzarella, Gianluca & Sabatini, Fabio, 2021. "COVID-19 Relief Programs and Compliance with Confinement Measures," IZA Discussion Papers 14064, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    altruism; COVID-19; diversity; fractionalization; Pandemic; Quarantine; Russia; self-isolation; Social distancing; Xenophobia;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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