NOVAFRICA Seminar: The Management of the Pandemic and its Effects on Trust and Accountability

On Friday, April 29th, at 02.30pm (Lisbon time), on Room B -133  the NOVAFRICA Center welcomes Monica Martinez-Bravo from the Center for Monetary and Financial Studies to present her work on “The Management of the Pandemic and its Effects on Trust and Accountability”.

Monica Martinez-Bravo

The management of the COVID-19 pandemic represented one of the greatest challenges that
policymakers had to face in recent history. The rapidly changing reality and directives may have
contributed to a popular perception of erratic management of governments in many countries. In
this paper, we investigate how people process information regarding the quality of the management
of the pandemic in their region. We conduct an online experiment in Spain in November 2020.
A randomly selected treated group obtained information on the number of contact tracers in their
region, a key policy to manage the pandemic. We find that individuals greatly over-estimate the
number of contact tracers in their region. When provided the actual number of contact tracers,
individuals experience a significant reduction in trust in governments and other political institutions.
We also find a reduction on individuals’ willingness to comply with government’s recommendation
of getting vaccinated. Finally, we also find evidence that individuals’ ideological leanings affect
how they process the negative news regarding the number of contact tracers. When the government
is divided (different coalitions at the regional and central governments) those politically aligned to
their regional government are more likely to shift blame to the central government for the deficient
number of contact tracers. As a result, accountability is reduced in divided governments: vote
intention for either the regional or the central government does not change after the information
provition. In non-divided governments, by contrast, the governing coalition is electorally punished.
These findings illustrates the difficulties in the exercise of political accountability when political
preferences are polarized and when areas of responsibility are not well established.

Find more about this seminar here.