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More than Words: Leaders' Speech and Risky Behavior During a Pandemic

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  • Nicolás Ajzenman

    ()

  • Tiago Cavalcanti

    ()

  • Daniel Da Mata

    ()

Abstract

How do political leader's words and actions affect people's behavior? We address this question in the context of Brazil by combining electoral information and geo-localized mobile phone data for more than 60 million devices throughout the entire country. We find that after Brazil's president publicly and emphatically dismissed the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and advised against isolation, the social distancing measures taken by citizens in pro-government localities weakened compared to places where political support of the president is less strong, while pre-event effects are insignificant. The impact is large and robust to different empirical model specifications. Moreover, we find suggestive evidence that this impact is driven by localities with relatively higher levels of media penetration and is stronger in municipalities with a larger proportion of Evangelic parishioners, a key group in terms of support for the president.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicolás Ajzenman & Tiago Cavalcanti & Daniel Da Mata, 2020. "More than Words: Leaders' Speech and Risky Behavior During a Pandemic," Department of Economics Working Papers wp_gob_2020_03, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.
  • Handle: RePEc:udt:wpecon:wp_gob_2020_03
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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. Stefano Castriota & Marco Delmastro & Mirco Tonin, 2020. "National or Local? The Demand for News in Italy during COVID-19," BEMPS - Bozen Economics & Management Paper Series BEMPS74, Faculty of Economics and Management at the Free University of Bozen.
    3. Christopher Avery & William Bossert & Adam Clark & Glenn Ellison & Sara Fisher Ellison, 2020. "An Economist's Guide to Epidemiology Models of Infectious Disease," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 34(4), pages 79-104, Fall.
    4. Yuan Tian & Maria Esther Caballero & Brian K. Kovak, 2020. "Social learning along international migrant networks," Discussion Papers 2020-12, University of Nottingham, GEP.
    5. Umut Akovali & Kamil Yilmaz, 2020. "Polarized Politics of Pandemic Response and the Covid-19 Connectedness Across the U.S. States," Koç University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum Working Papers 2019, Koc University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Health; Coronavirus; Leadership; Persuasion; Risky Behavior;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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