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Individualism and Collectivism as predictors of compliance with COVID-19 public health safety expectations

Cassandra Castle (), Corrado Di Guilmi () and Olena Stavrunova ()
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Cassandra Castle: University of Technology Sydney
Olena Stavrunova: University of Technology Sydney

No 2021/03, Working Paper Series from Economics Discipline Group, UTS Business School, University of Technology, Sydney

Abstract: The 2019 coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has presented a complex problem to policymakers and researchers. To slow the rate of infection, governments across the world have implemented similar lockdown procedures and recommended behavioural changes, yet the rates of compliance with these measures have varied significantly across communities. This directly impacts the level of severity of measures required to fight the pandemic and the degree to which these measures impact economic activity. Previous studies have highlighted how culture plays a role in determining values, which impact decision making and therefore influence responses to social and collective coordination. Our study builds on this literature by developing a survey that explores how cultural dispositions impact public health safety behaviours in NSW. We refer to the Individualism index from Hofstede�s model of culture as our predictor of COVID-19 behaviours. We also present recommendations to improve compliance and reduce the impact of the pandemic. We find that Horizontal Collectivism (HC) is positively associated with social distancing and face mask behaviours, and Vertical Collectivism (VC) is positively linked to increased hand hygiene behaviours. We also find that Horizontal Individualism (HI) is negatively related to social distancing in general. Interestingly, both Vertical Individualism (VI) and Collectivism relate positively to worries about health, whilst high scores of HI indicate lower probabilities of being worried about personal health and the well-being of friends and family. From these findings, we recommend that policymakers spread unifying messages and emphasise the pandemic as a group problem to promote compliance and minimise uncertainty.

Keywords: COVID-19; Health-protective behaviour; IND-COL scale; Online survey (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D80 D91 H12 I18 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 53 pages
Date: 2021-05-03
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hea
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