Questions and answers about
the UK economy.

Covid-19 information and demand for protective gear in the UK

Amid the Covid-19 crisis in the UK, we study the demand and willingness to pay for hand sanitiser gel, disposable face masks and disposable gloves, and the role of information on tested people and Covid-19 deaths in explaining the demand and willingness to pay (WTP) for these products. The specific hypotheses to test and concrete questions to study were pre registered in As Predicted (#38962) on 10 April 2020, and an online survey was launched in Prolific on a sample of the UK general population representative by age, sex and ethnicity on 11 April 2020. We find that there is a demand for these products, estimate the average WTP for them, and show that the provision of information affected the demand (and WTP) for disposable face masks. Giving information on the numbers of Covid-19 cumulative tested people and Covid-19 cumulative deaths increases the stated demand for disposable face masks by about 8 percentage points [95% CI: 0.8, 15.1] and 11 percentage points [95% CI: 3.7, 18.2], respectively. We also investigate whether the provision of information affects donations to UK charities focusing on groups more vulnerable to the Covid-19 pandemic (Age UK, British Lung Foundation, Samaritans, and Women’s Aid), but find no evidence of any relevant effect. We do not find differences by sex in the average WTP, or in the effects of information on demands and donations.

Lead investigator:

Sonia Oreffice


University of Exeter

Primary topic:

Business, big & small

Secondary topic:

Prices & interest rates

Region of data collection:


Country of data collection


Status of data collection


Type of data being collected:

Online survey

Unit of real-time data collection


End date




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