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Civic capital and social distancing: evidence from the response to Covid-19 in Italy and Germany

Social distancing can succeed in slowing the spread of Covid-19 if citizens voluntary comply with it and internalize the cost of their mobility on others. How do civic values mediate this process? Using data on individual mobility across Italian provinces we document that, after the start of the pandemic, mobility declined disproportionately more in areas with higher civic capital. This pattern holds even before the national lockdown - when no police enforcement was in place - and is not driven by higher risk of contagion or differences in healthcare capacity. We find consistent results for Germany where social distancing measures have been generally milder and citizens had greater discretion to manage their mobility.

Lead investigator:

Ruben Durante


Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Primary topic:

Attitudes, media & governance

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Type of data being collected:

From private company

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