Vincenzo Carrieri, Maria De Paola, Francesca Gioia, 10 June 2020

The management of the Covid-19 health emergency implies a challenging health/wealth trade-off for governments that will persist until a medical solution becomes available. This column argues that people’s preferences regarding policies to restart the economy depend to a large extent on how this trade-off is communicated to the public. A field experiment in the south of Italy finds that framing the measures as ‘protective’ for health induces people to place more weight on health than economic concerns. This could increase individual compliance with the appropriate preventive behaviours.

Shaun P. Hargreaves Heap, Christel Koop, Konstantinos Matakos, Asli Unan, Nina Weber, 06 June 2020

The behavioural interventions to control the spread of COVID-19 present trade-offs between health and wealth. To be successful, an understanding of how the public currently values lives over economic loss is needed. A survey experiment in the US and UK finds that people highly prioritise saving lives, but this valuation will change as economic losses mount. Individual differences in valuation also predict individual compliance with COVID-19 policies, and information on COVID-19 deaths and income losses can affect valuations. Caution in relaxing the lockdown will help build public support and mitigate polarising effects and, through increasing compliance, improve its economic efficacy.

Cevat Giray Aksoy, Barry Eichengreen, Orkun Saka, 31 May 2020

It is argued that COVID-19 will reverse the ongoing trend of challenging the value of science and the integrity of scientists. This column shows that exposure to epidemics in one’s country of residence during the ‘impressionable years’ of ages 18 to 25 has no impact on confidence in science as an enterprise, but negatively affects views of the honesty and public-spiritedness of scientists.

Raquel Fernández, Sahar Parsa, 20 June 2019

Over the last few decades, there has been a large change in public opinion towards same-sex relationships.It has been argued that to drive such a change in public attitudes, a ‘shock’ of some kind is needed. This column examines the change in attitudes in the US towards same-sex relationships in relation to the AIDS epidemic. It shows that the change is indeed greater in those states most exposed to the AIDS epidemic, although only women reacted significantly to the AIDS rate in the 1990s.

Alexis Grigorieff, Chris Roth, Diego Ubfal, 29 March 2017

There has been a surge of anti-immigrant sentiment in the US and many European countries. This column uses survey results to show that accurate information about numbers of immigrants changes opinions on whether there are too many immigrants, but not on policy towards them. More detailed information on the characteristics of immigrants, however, can increase support for pro-immigrant policies, particularly among those who start off with the most negative views on immigration.

Christoph Trebesch, Helios Herrera, Guillermo Ordoñez, 06 September 2014

Financial crises are often credit booms gone bust. This column argues that ‘political booms’, defined as an increase in government popularity, are also a good predictor of financial crises. The phenomenon of ‘political booms gone bust’ is, however, only observable in emerging markets. In these countries, politicians have more to gain from riding the popularity benefits of unsustainable booms.

Felix Roth, Lars Jonung, Felicitas Nowak-Lehmann, 05 November 2012

The Eurozone crisis has meant slow growth, rising unemployment, and social unrest. This column gauges the impact of all this on European citizens‘ opinions about the euro and EU institutions. Using Eurobarometer surveys, the authors find that, within the Eurozone, the crisis has only marginally lowered support for the euro but has led to a sharp fall in public trust in the ECB.

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