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Covid-19 pandemic, public attention, and policy responses

Despite all countries being affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the government's' responses have varied extensively in terms of speed, policy content, as well as the level of compulsion. We explore to what extent differences in the timing of the policy implementation can be explained by public attention in addition to other relevant factors, such as the number of cases in the own country and own continent. We present three sets of main results. First, our event study estimates show that the first case in the own country leads to increases in public attention (measured by Google trends) to the Covid-19 outbreak. Second, we find that public attention is an important determinant of the policy responses. Finally, we analyze whether variation in public attention predicts subsequent differences in the speed of pandemic spread and death rates, when controlling for other confounding factors.

Lead investigator:

Cevat Giray Aksoy


King's College London

Primary topic:

Attitudes, media & governance

Region of data collection:


Status of data collection


Type of data being collected:

Publicly available

Unit of real-time data collection


Start date


End date