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

Jason Shachat (), Matthew Walker and Lijia Wei

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2021, vol. 190, issue C, 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.

Keywords: Covid-19; Social preferences; Cooperation; Trust; Risk preferences (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C93 D64 D81 D91 I18 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2021.08.001

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Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization is currently edited by Houser, D. and Puzzello, D.

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:190:y:2021:i:c:p:480-494