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Divided We Stay Home: Social Distancing and Ethnic Diversity

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

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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  • Georgy Egorov & Ruben Enikolopov & Alexey Makarin & Maria Petrova, 2020. "Divided We Stay Home: Social Distancing and Ethnic Diversity," NBER Working Papers 27277, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:27277
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    1. > Economics of Welfare > Health Economics > Economics of Pandemics > Specific pandemics > Covid-19 > Economic consequences > Socioeconomic status

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    2. Abel Brodeur & David Gray & Anik Islam & Suraiya Bhuiyan, 2021. "A literature review of the economics of COVID‐19," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(4), pages 1007-1044, September.
    3. Fazio, Andrea & Reggiani, Tommaso G. & Sabatini, Fabio, 2021. "The Political Cost of Lockdown's Enforcement," IZA Discussion Papers 14032, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Michele Valsecchi & Ruben Durante, 2020. "Internal migration and the spread of Covid-19," Working Papers w0276, New Economic School (NES).
    5. 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).
    6. 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.
    7. Garz, Marcel & Zhuang, Maiting, 2022. "Media coverage and pandemic behaviour: Evidence from Sweden," Misum Working Paper Series 2022-9, Stockholm School of Economics, Mistra Center for Sustainable Markets (Misum).
    8. Zéphirin Nganmeni & Roland Pongou & Bertrand Tchantcho & Jean-Baptiste Tondji, 2022. "Vaccine and Inclusion," Working Papers 2202E Classification-C62,, University of Ottawa, Department of Economics.
    9. Valsecchi, Michele & Durante, Ruben, 2021. "Internal migration networks and mortality in home communities: Evidence from Italy during the Covid-19 pandemic," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 140(C).
    10. Berniell, Ines & Fawaz, Yarine & Laferrere, Anne & Mira, Pedro & Pronkina, Elizaveta, 2021. "The COVID-19 Curtain: Can Past Communist Regimes Explain the Vaccination Divide in Europe?," IZA Discussion Papers 14833, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    11. Lu, Runjing & Sheng, Sophie Yanying, 2022. "How racial animus forms and spreads: Evidence from the coronavirus pandemic," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 200(C), pages 82-98.
    12. 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.
    13. 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.
    14. Bach Nguyen, 2022. "Internal migration and earnings: Do migrant entrepreneurs and migrant employees differ?," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 101(4), pages 901-944, August.
    15. James Alm, 2022. "Trust, the Pandemic, and Public Policies," National Tax Journal, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75(2), pages 355-370.
    16. 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.
    17. 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.
    18. Deiana, Claudio & Geraci, Andrea & Mazzarella, Gianluca & Sabatini, Fabio, 2022. "Can relief measures nudge compliance in a public health crisis? Evidence from a kinked fiscal policy rule," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 202(C), pages 407-428.
    19. Burcu Ozgun & Tom Broekel, 2022. "Saved by the news? COVID-19 in German news and its relationship with regional mobility behavior," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 2224, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Oct 2022.
    20. 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).
    21. 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.

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    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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