HKS Authors

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We study people's willingness to trade off civil liberties for increased health security in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic by deploying representative surveys involving around 550,000 responses across 15 countries. We document significant heterogeneity across groups in willingness to sacrifice rights: citizens disadvantaged by income, education, or race are less willing to sacrifice rights than their more advantaged peers in every country. Leveraging naturally occurring variation and experimental approaches, we estimate a one standard deviation increase in health insecurity increases willingness to sacrifice civil liberties by 68–83 percent of the difference between the average Chinese and US citizen.


Alsan, Marcella, Luca Braghieri, Sarah Eichmeyer, Minjeong Joyce Kim, Stefanie Stantcheva, and David Y. Yang. "Civil Liberties in Times of Crisis." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 15.4 (October 2023): 389-421.