Questions and answers about
the UK economy.

Covid-19, the stability of preferences and environmental choices

Recent studies and surveys show that Covid-19 not only poses a threat to individuals’ physical health, but also threatens individuals’ mental health due to income and employment losses, changes in daily routines and the general increased fear and uncertainty in life. Existing literature in health, psychology and development economics argues that such increased stress levels affect individuals’ decision-making, therefore questioning the stability of preferences. To contribute to our understanding of how preferences evolve, this study investigates whether Covid-19 has a similar impact on economic decisions in the domains of risk, time and prosocial behavior. To do so, we run an online survey including standard experimental tasks involving trade-offs over risk, time and charitable giving with a nationally representative sample in Germany and compare decisions to multiple baseline data sets. We will further use the online survey and our baseline data to compare environmental choices, such as environmental attitudes, energy consumption habits and conformity with policies supporting renewable energies or clean air, before and after the Covid-19 crisis. This comparison will contribute to the discussion on whether there are positive or negative spillover effects of the global Covid-19 crisis to the global climate change crisis. Additionally, we will elicit participants’ beliefs and adherence to strategies limiting the spreading of Covid-19, trust in institutional bodies as well as the willingness to pay to avoid continued exposure to Covid-19. By running a parallel study in the US, we will compare how the two countries differ in terms of the stability of preferences, beliefs and compliance with spread-limiting strategies, trust in governments as well as the trade-offs, both in money and life-time, participants’ are willing to make to avoid exposure to Covid-19.

Lead investigator:

Andreas Loschel


University of Munster

Primary topic:

Attitudes, media & governance

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




Read the results from this research