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Stigma and Misconceptions in the Time of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Field Experiment in India

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  • Islam, Asadul

    (Monash University)

  • Pakrashi, Debayan

    (Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur)

  • Vlassopoulos, Michael

    (University of Southampton)

  • Wang, Liang Choon

    (Monash University)

Abstract

A hidden cost of the COVID-19 pandemic is the stigma associated with the disease for those infected and groups that are considered as more likely to be infected. This paper examines whether the provision of accurate and focused information about COVID-19 from a reliable source can reduce stigmatization. We carry out a randomized field experiment in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India, in which we provide an information brief about COVID-19 by phone to a random subsample of participants to address stigma and misconceptions. We find that the information brief decreases stigmatization of COVID-19 patients and certain groups such as religious minorities, lower-caste groups, and frontline workers (healthcare, police), and reduces the belief that infection cases are more prevalent among certain marginalized social and economic groups (Muslims, low caste, rural-poor population). We provide suggestive evidence that improved knowledge about the prevention and transmission of COVID-19 and reduced stress about the disease are important channels for these effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Islam, Asadul & Pakrashi, Debayan & Vlassopoulos, Michael & Wang, Liang Choon, 2020. "Stigma and Misconceptions in the Time of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Field Experiment in India," IZA Discussion Papers 13995, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp13995
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    Cited by:

    1. Islam, Asad & Pakrashi, Debayan & Sahoo, Soubhagya & Wang, Liang Choon & Zenou, Yves, 2021. "Gender inequality and caste: Field experimental evidence from India," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 190(C), pages 111-124.
    2. Rai, Birendra & Wang, Liang Choon & Pandit, Simone & Handfield, Toby & So, Chiu Ki, 2021. "Awareness of ethical dilemmas enhances public support for the principle of saving more lives in the United States: A survey experiment based on ethical allocation of scarce ventilators," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 282(C).
    3. Michael Vlassopoulos & Abu Siddique & Tabassum Rahman & Debayan Pakrashi & Asad Islam & Firoz Ahmed, 2021. "Improving Women's Mental Health During a Pandemic," Munich Papers in Political Economy 11, Munich School of Politics and Public Policy and the School of Management at the Technical University of Munich.
    4. Christophe Z Guilmoto, 2022. "An alternative estimation of the death toll of the Covid-19 pandemic in India," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 17(2), pages 1-14, February.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    infodemics; experiment; information; misconceptions; COVID-19; stigma;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy

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