Nationwide lockdowns implemented by governments to confront the COVID-19 pandemic came at a high economic price. The article investigates citizens’ evaluation of the trade-off between public health measures and their economic consequences. Using a vignette experiment conducted in June 2020 on 7,500 respondents in seven European countries the article tests whether perceived threats of the health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic affect citizens’ preferences for strict or mild lockdown measures. Findings show that European citizens tend to prefer strict measures protecting public health despite their damage to the economy. Even individuals more concerned about the pandemic’s economic impact do not prefer milder restrictions. Sociodemographic factors only indirectly affect public preferences, through perceived threats. Additionally, findings show that trust in experts and political orientations matter. These results resonate with previous research showing that public opinion in hard times is likely to be guided by risk perceptions and subjective attitudes.
Supplemental data for this article can be accessed online at: https://doi.org/10.1080/01402382.2021.1933310.
To cite this article:
(2021) A cure worse than the disease? Exploring the health-economy trade-off during COVID-19, West European Politics,