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Faculty of Economics

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Gallo, E., Barak, D. and Langtry, A.

Social distancing in networks: A web-based interactive experiment

Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics

Vol. 107 no. 102090 (2023)

Abstract: The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic led to an unprecedented rise in the use of social distancing as a means to curb the spread of infection. We examine the effectiveness of fines and informational messages (nudges) in promoting social distancing in a framed web-based interactive experiment conducted during the first wave of the pandemic on a near-representative sample of the US population. Fines promote distancing, while nudges have a smaller and less robust impact. Individuals do more social distancing when they are aware they are a superspreader. Using an instrumental variable approach, we show suggestive evidence that progressives are more likely to practice distancing, and they are somewhat more responsive to fines.

Keywords: Social distancing, Online experiment, Nudge, Superspreader, Political ideology

JEL Codes: C99, D85, D91, I12

Author links: Edoardo Gallo  

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