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More than words: leaders’ speech and risky behavior during a pandemic

How do political leader’s words and actions affect people’s behavior? We address this question in the context of Brazil by combining electoral data and geo-localized mobile phone data for more than 60 million devices throughout the entire country. We find that after Brazil’s president publicly and emphatically dismisses the risks associated with the Covid-19 Pandemic and advises against isolation, social distancing measures of citizens in pro-government localities reduce relative to those places in which his support is weaker, while pre-event effects are insignificant. The impact is large and robust to different empirical model specifications. We also find suggestive evidence that this impact is driven by localities with relatively higher levels of media penetration.

Lead investigator:

Nicolas Ajzenman

Affiliation:

Sao Paulo School of Economics

Primary topic:

Attitudes, media & governance

Region of data collection:

South America

Country of data collection

Brazil

Status of data collection

Complete

Type of data being collected:

From private company

Unit of real-time data collection

Country/Municipality

Start date

2/2020

End date

4/2020

Frequency

Daily

Read the results from this research