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Political polarization, social fragmentation, and cooperation during a pandemic

We study the impact of political polarization on the willingness of people to comply with social distancing directives during the Covid-19 pandemic. We find a reduced compliance with these measures when the state governor differs from the preferred party of survey respondents. Exploring a number of possible mechanisms, we show that these results are strongest in states where the opposing party's advocates are more hostile and provide evidence that compliance is low when recommendations come from an out-group member. This paper, more broadly, demonstrates the consequences of political polarization on the willingness to contribute to public goods.

Lead investigator:

Boriana Miloucheva


University of Toronto

Primary topic:

Attitudes, media & governance

Region of data collection:

North America

Country of data collection


Status of data collection


Type of data being collected:

Online survey

Unit of real-time data collection


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End date




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