Articles Health Policy Articles

Is Health Politically Irrelevant? Experimental Evidence during a Global Pandemic

Published time: 18 May 2020

Authors: Arnab Acharya, John Gerring, Aaron Reeves

Keywords: Covid-19, health, politics, survey, pandemic


This project involves three samples, drawn from the United Kingdom, the United States, and India. Respondents are recruited through MTurk and compensated after the completion of a short survey. In each country, we aim for a sample of 1,500, reserving 500 for each of three treatment arms – a pure control, an “economics” treatment (where we prime the economic effects of the Coronavirus pandemic), and a “public health” treatment (where we prime the health effects of the pandemic). People in the US, UK, and India are extremely concerned about the pandemic – both its health effects and economic repercussions – and they become even more concerned when primed with information about the repercussions of the virus. Yet, we find no evidence that these worries translate into changes in political behavior. The null findings contained in this study suggest that politicians are unlikely to be punished or rewarded for their failures or successes in managing Covid-19 in the next election. We suggest that these findings indicate that public health issues have little influence on voter preferences in most election cycles.

Is health politically irrelevant Experimental evidence during a global pandemic



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