Questions and answers about
the economy.

Will Covid-19 change what the public expect of government?

Previous research on pandemics, infectious disease, and recession suggests that Covid-19 could have a significant impact on the public’s public policy preferences - and thus the environment in which policymakers will have to address the pandemic’s consequences. Increased insecurity could result in an ‘othering’ process that fosters more socially conservative attitudes, is resistant to the process of globalization, and undermines social trust. At the same time, voters may react thermostatically to the increase in public expenditure and seek a return to the status quo ante. However, none of these developments are inevitable. Exposure to unemployment may increase support for welfare and encourage voters to reset their public spending thermostat. Framing by politicians may foster a social cohesion and solidarity that promotes social trust, heightens concern about inequality and tolerates diversity. The international character of the disease may persuade people of the importance of international collaboration. To address these possibilities, a module of 60 questions will be administered on two waves of NatCen’s mixed mode random probability panel, all of whose members were previously interviewed for the annual British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey. The first wave will take place early summer 2020 and the second in spring 2021. The module will comprise questions asked on previous BSAs, together with measures of people’s experience and perceptions of Covid-19. This design will make it possible to assess how attitudes have changed at both the aggregate and the individual level, and to link individual level change to people’s views of the pandemic.

Lead investigator:

John Curtice


NatCen Social Research

Primary topic:

Attitudes, media & governance

Secondary topic:

Recession & recovery

Region of data collection:


Country of data collection


Status of data collection


Type of data being collected:

Survey (other/unclear)

Unit of real-time data collection