HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.


Containing the COVID-19 pandemic will confer global benefits that greatly exceed the costs, but effective solutions require the redistribution of vaccines, technology, and other scarce resources from high-income to low-income countries. The United States has played a central role in coordinating responses to previous global health challenges, and its policy choices in the current pandemic will have a far-reaching impact on the rest of the world. Yet little is known about domestic support for international recovery efforts. We use a series of conjoint and persuasive messaging experiments, fielded on two national surveys of the U.S. adult population (N = 5,965), to study mass support for international redistribution. We find clear evidence that the general population strongly supports allocating vaccines to own-country recipients before others. Despite this “vaccine nationalism,” Americans are willing to support the government playing a major role in global pandemic recovery efforts, provided policymakers forge international agreements that ensure moderate domestic costs, burden-sharing with other countries, and priority for certain types of resources, such as domestically manufactured vaccines and patent buyouts. Finally, we test five different persuasive messaging strategies and find that emphasizing the relatively low costs and large economic benefits of global vaccination is the most promising means of increasing domestic support for international redistribution. Overall, our results demonstrate that policymakers can secure broad public support for costly international cooperation by crafting responses that are clearly aligned with U.S. economic interests.


Nair, Gautam, and Kyle Peyton. "Building mass support for global pandemic recovery efforts in the United States." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP22-002, February 2022.