Heterogeneity in Individuals’ Preventive Behaviors during COVID-19: Health Risk, Economic Insecurity, and Slanted Information
Dr. Hyunjung Ji (University of Alabama), Su Hyun Shin, and HanNa Lim
Journal Article in Social Science & Medicine, April 17, 2021
The present study examines whether people respond heterogeneously to statewide social distancing mandates as a function of factors that proxy for health risk, economic insecurity, and media consumption. Using longitudinal data of 7400 American adults between March 10 and June 23, 2020, the study examines social-distancing and mask-wearing behaviors. We use a staggered difference-in-difference model to explore whether state policies lead to preventive behaviors. We further examine heterogeneity in individual responses to state mandates by including interaction terms with health risk, economic insecurity, and media consumption. The study finds that state policies lead to increased adoption of these behaviors. Our findings also suggest that old age and living with the elderly are key predictors of preventive behavior adoption in the presence or even absence of state mandates. However, the economically insecure, such as the unemployed, those with low incomes and net worth, or without health insurance, are less likely to adopt preventive behaviors regardless of the mandates. The adoption of the behaviors is also polarized between CNN users and Fox News/Social Media users, with greater compliance by the former.