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Covid-19 and the Political Economy of Mass Hysteria


  • Bagus, Philipp
  • Peña Ramos, José Antonio
  • Sánchez Bayón, Antonio


In this article, we aim to develop a political economy of mass hysteria. Using the background of COVID-19, we study past mass hysteria. Negative information which is spread through mass media repetitively can affect public health negatively in the form of nocebo effects and mass hysteria. We argue that mass and digital media in connection with the state may have had adverse consequences during the COVID-19 crisis. The resulting collective hysteria may have contributed to policy errors by governments not in line with health recommendations. While mass hysteria can occur in societies with a minimal state, we show that there exist certain self-corrective mechanisms and limits to the harm inflicted, such as sacrosanct private property rights. However, mass hysteria can be exacerbated and self-reinforcing when the negative information comes from an authoritative source, when the media are politicized, and social networks make the negative information omnipresent. We conclude that the negative long-term effects of mass hysteria are exacerbated by the size of the state.

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  • Bagus, Philipp & Peña Ramos, José Antonio & Sánchez Bayón, Antonio, 2020. "Covid-19 and the Political Economy of Mass Hysteria," MPRA Paper 106158, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 03 Feb 2021.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:106158

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    2. Yeshwant Naik, 2021. "Covid 19: Human Rights and State Responsibility," Review of European Studies, Canadian Center of Science and Education, vol. 13(3), pages 1-7, September.
    3. Werner Gleißner & Florian Follert & Frank Daumann & Frank Leibbrand, 2021. "EU’s Ordering of COVID-19 Vaccine Doses: Political Decision-Making under Uncertainty," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 18(4), pages 1-12, February.
    4. Moshe Yanovskiy & Yehoshua Socol, 2022. "Are Lockdowns Effective in Managing Pandemics?," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 19(15), pages 1-12, July.
    5. Victor I. Espinosa & Miguel A. Alonso Neira & Jesús Huerta de Soto, 2021. "Principles of Sustainable Economic Growth and Development: A Call to Action in a Post-COVID-19 World," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(23), pages 1-14, November.
    6. Barbara Cieślińska & Anna Janiszewska, 2022. "Demographic and Social Dimension of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Polish Cities: Excess Deaths and Residents’ Fears," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(13), pages 1-24, July.
    7. Miloš Milosavljević & Milan Okanović & Slavica Cicvarić Kostić & Marija Jovanović & Milenko Radonić, 2023. "COVID-19 and Behavioral Factors of e-Payment Use: Evidence from Serbia," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 15(4), pages 1-13, February.
    8. Frank Daumann & Florian Follert & Werner Gleißner & Endre Kamarás & Chantal Naumann, 2021. "Political Decision Making in the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Case of Germany from the Perspective of Risk Management," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 19(1), pages 1-23, December.
    9. Florian Follert & Werner Gleißner & Dominik Möst, 2021. "What Can Politics Learn from Management Decisions? A Case Study of Germany’s Exit from Nuclear Energy after Fukushima," Energies, MDPI, vol. 14(13), pages 1-15, June.
    10. José Antonio Peña-Ramos & Fátima Recuero-López & Antonio Sánchez-Bayón & Francisco Javier Sastre, 2021. "Evaluation of Spanish Health System during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Accountability and Wellbeing Results," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 18(24), pages 1-25, December.
    11. Wojciech Charemza & Svetlana Makarova & Krzysztof Rybiński, 2023. "Anti-pandemic restrictions, uncertainty and sentiment in seven countries," Economic Change and Restructuring, Springer, vol. 56(1), pages 1-27, February.
    12. Miguel Ángel Echarte Fernández & Sergio Luis Náñez Alonso & Javier Jorge-Vázquez & Ricardo Francisco Reier Forradellas, 2021. "Central Banks’ Monetary Policy in the Face of the COVID-19 Economic Crisis: Monetary Stimulus and the Emergence of CBDCs," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(8), pages 1-18, April.
    13. Victor I. Espinosa & William Hongsong Wang & Jesús Huerta de Soto, 2022. "Principles of Nudging and Boosting: Steering or Empowering Decision-Making for Behavioral Development Economics," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(4), pages 1-18, February.
    14. Esther González Arnedo & Jesús Alberto Valero-Matas & Antonio Sánchez-Bayón, 2021. "Spanish Tourist Sector Sustainability: Recovery Plan, Green Jobs and Wellbeing Opportunity," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(20), pages 1-17, October.
    15. José Antonio Peña-Ramos & María del Pino-García & Antonio Sánchez-Bayón, 2021. "The Spanish Energy Transition into the EU Green Deal: Alignments and Paradoxes," Energies, MDPI, vol. 14(9), pages 1-18, April.
    16. Leah F. Vosko & Cynthia Spring, 2022. "COVID-19 Outbreaks in Canada and the Crisis of Migrant Farmworkers’ Social Reproduction: Transnational Labour and the Need for Greater Accountability Among Receiving States," Journal of International Migration and Integration, Springer, vol. 23(4), pages 1765-1791, December.
    17. Martín García Vaquero & Antonio Sánchez-Bayón & José Lominchar, 2021. "European Green Deal and Recovery Plan: Green Jobs, Skills and Wellbeing Economics in Spain," Energies, MDPI, vol. 14(14), pages 1-20, July.
    18. Glenn L. Furton, 2023. "The pox of politics: Troesken’s tradeoff reexamined," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 195(1), pages 169-191, April.

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    More about this item


    mass hysteria; nocebo effects; contagion; mass media; social media; public health; law and economics; political economy; groupthink; culture of fear; emotional contagion; anxiety; policy error; COVID-19;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • A10 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - General
    • B53 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Austrian
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General

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