David Welsch, 01 December 2020

The science behind mask usage and its ability to reduce airborne particles seems clear. Despite this, many individuals are sceptical that wearing masks can reduce the spread of COVID-19 and many refuse to wear one even when required. This column examines the effect of mask usage using county-level data from the US, employing an instrumental variable approach. The findings show that increasing the amount of individuals who frequently or always wear a mask when within six feet of people by 1% could reduce COVID-19 deaths by 10.5%, which translates into approximately six deaths in the average county. 

Vincenzo Galasso, Vincent Pons, Paola Profeta, 07 November 2020

The efficacy of government lockdown measures to contain COVID-19 hinges on people’s willingness to comply. It is critical to identify and convince those who are the least compliant. This column surveyed over 21,000 respondents in eight OECD countries, in March and April 2020, on beliefs about COVID-19 and containment measures and their level of compliance with the measures. Men and women differ strikingly in both beliefs and behaviours, with women are more likely to take the pandemic seriously and more compliant than men. The findings suggest that public health communication should target men and women differently.

Nirosha Elsem Varghese, Iryna Sabat, Sebastian Neumann-Böhme, Jonas Schreyögg, Tom Stargardt, Aleksandra Torbica, Job van Exel, Pedro Barros, Werner Brouwer, 26 October 2020

The World Health Organization recommended a range of preventative behaviours to protect the public from COVID-19. This column examines how familiar and compliant the adult population of seven European countries were with WHO’s recommendations. Using individual-level data from 7,000 respondents to an online survey conducted in April 2020, the study finds that information from WHO in the context of COVID-19 was well trusted and largely followed, with heterogeneities by recommendation type, country, and individual level characteristics such as region, age, gender, and education. 

Olivier Bargain, Ulugbek Aminjonov, 23 October 2020

As a second wave of COVID-19 threatens the health of communities across the globe, governments are considering another round of lockdowns. But the success of those policies will depend largely on the levels of compliance, which will in turn depend on the confidence that citizens have in their leaders. This column summarises the results of recent studies examining the effect of civic trust during the first wave of the pandemic. The evidence points to a higher rate of compliance with stay-at-home policies in regions with a higher level of long-term trust in politicians.

Guglielmo Briscese, Nicola Lacetera, Mario Macis, Mirco Tonin, 16 May 2020

Many governments have enacted stringent ‘stay-at-home’ policies to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. This column reports evidence from a series of surveys of representative samples of the Italian population on their willingness to comply with the lockdown. The results indicate that people are less compliant if self-isolation measures are extended for longer than expected, which suggests that managing expectations is critical. This finding could be valuable if new waves of infections force governments to re-introduce lockdowns.

Lucas Bretschger, 11 October 2015

There is reasonable hope that the upcoming United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris (COP21) will reach a consistent global climate agreement. What makes the negotiations particularly difficult is not economic efficiency, but the equity implications of climate policy. This column presents a framework for incorporating equity concerns into policy design. Building from four equity principles, it reduces the complex problem of international burden sharing to a simple rule tied to a single metric.

Vidhi Chhaochharia, Luc Laeven, 06 June 2007

Two recent CEPR Discussion papers examine the impact of corporate governance on standard measures of corporate performance and find that better corporate governance means a higher stock market valuation - and healthier financial performance.

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