Social Determinants of COVID-19 Policy Responses: Is Individualism Predictive of the Stringency of COVID-19 Lockdown Measures?
Owens, Victoria Elizabeth
The rapid, airborne transmission of COVID-19 and the subsequent pandemic forced countries to implement lockdown and stay-at-home measures to prevent the spread of the disease. However, the degree of stringency of lockdown policies varies greatly, both across and within countries. This thesis explores factors that influence COVID-19 policy stringency, specifically, the impact of individualism-collectivism and culture. The current study empirically investigates the effect of individualistic and collectivistic cultures on governmental COVID-19 policy responses for 113 countries using COVID-19 data from the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker, Coronavirus Pandemic data from Our World in Data, and cultural dimension scores from Hofstede Insights. The results suggest that countries with more collectivistic cultures tend to implement more stringent lockdown measures than individualistic cultures. These results indicate that culture is a significant input into COVID-19 policy-making but is not the only factor considered. Further investigation into the relationship between culture and policy could help researchers and policy-makers identify potential future pandemic responses that are both effective and culturally congruent.
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