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How the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic impacted pro-social behaviour and individual preferences: Experimental evidence from China

Shachat, J. and Walker, M.J. and Wei, L. (2021) 'How the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic impacted pro-social behaviour and individual preferences: Experimental evidence from China.', Journal of economic behavior and organization., 190 . pp. 480-494.

Abstract

We present experimental evidence on how pro-sociality, trust and attitudes towards risk and ambiguity evolved over the six weeks following the imposition of stringent Covid-19 related lockdown measures in the Hubei province of China. We compare incentivized economic decision-making in a baseline sample, collected pre-epidemic, with a series of repeated cross-sectional samples drawn from the same population between January and March, 2020. We find high rates of altruism, cooperation and aversion to risk taking under ambiguity in the immediate aftermath of the lockdown, while trust is significantly below its baseline level. Risk attitudes also differ in the post-lockdown sample, with decreased risk tolerance in the loss domain and lesser risk aversion in the gain domain. We further uncover significant transitory effects for trust and risk aversion around the date of a high-profile whistleblower’s death from Covid-19. Our findings suggest that the onset of a public health crisis may have unintended consequences for economic preferences that determine population compliance with interventions designed to reduce the spread of a novel coronavirus.

Item Type:Article
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo until 09 February 2023.
(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 4.0.
File format - PDF
(389Kb)
Status:Peer-reviewed
Publisher Web site:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jebo.2021.08.001
Publisher statement:© 2021 This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Date accepted:01 August 2021
Date deposited:26 August 2021
Date of first online publication:09 August 2021
Date first made open access:09 February 2023

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