Last week brought welcome news about the apparent effectiveness of a potential Covid-19 vaccine. While the challenges of manufacturing and distributing the vaccine lie ahead, this column argues that the most difficult challenge may actually be getting people to take it. A September survey of more than 10,000 Americans showed that only a slim majority of adult respondents would definitely or probably get a vaccine to prevent Covid-19, were it available today. A 2018 study shows that vaccine scepticism is even greater in a number of other countries. Hope lies in the possibility of a more consistent and effective public policy response, in which governments’ non-pharmaceutical interventions produce positive results, in turn fostering confidence in the safety and efficacy of anyRead More »
Articles by Aksoy, Eichengreen, Saka
It is widely argued (e.g. Fukyuama 2020) that the keys to success in dealing with COVID-19 are “whether citizens trust their leaders, and whether those leaders preside over a competent and effective state.” By way of example, Rothstein (2020) ascribes the greater success at containing the COVID-19 in the Nordic countries than in Italy in part to greater trust in government.
Trust in government is not a given, however (Dustmann et al. 2017, Grosjean 2019). Specifically, there is reason to ask whether COVID-19 itself will affect trust in political institutions and leaders.
In a new paper, we provide the first evidence on the effects of epidemics on political trust (Aksoy et al. 2020). We use individual-level data on confidence in political institutions and leaders
COVID-19 will change everything. (For overviews of the implications, see Benassy-Quere et al. 2020 and Benassy-Quere and Weder di Mauro 2020.) One effect, it has been argued, will be to reverse the secular trend of challenging the value of scientific expertise. “The coronavirus crisis has put a spotlight on the importance of science in supporting our nation’s well being” (Shepherd 2020). At the same time, the pandemic has put on display certain leaders’ “longstanding practice of undermining scientific expertise for political purposes” (Friedman and Plumer 2020), conceivably with negative implications for how the public views science and scientists. All of which points to the question posed by Grove (2020): “Will the coronavirus renew public trust in science?”