Theme Panel: Enduring Effects of COVID-19: A Global Perspective

Enduring Effects of COVID-19: A Global Perspective

Co-sponsored by Division 11: Comparative Politics
Virtual Full Paper Panel

(Discussant) Ellen M. Lust, University of Gothenburg; (Chair) Scott L. Greer, University of Michigan

Session Description:
This panel addresses the short- and long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic across several countries and regions, including Latin America, Southeast Asia, Russia, Turkey, and the United States. It includes five papers that investigate health behavior compliance, vaccine hesitancy and perceptions of vaccine safety, and the impact of vaccine distribution based on original survey data.

Vaccine Diplomacy: How COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution in Latin America Increases Trust in Foreign Governments by Julian Gerez (PhD candidate, Columbia University)
Can Endorsement by Politicians and Religious Leaders move the Needle on Vaccine Hesitancy? by Pauline Jones (Professor, University of Michigan)
Partisanship, Trumpism, and Health Behavior in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Evidence from Panel Data by Thomas B. Pepinsky (Professor, Cornell University)
Non-Compliance as Dissent: Societal Roots of Compliance with State Regulation by Regina Smyth (Professor, Indiana University)


COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution in Latin America & Trust in Foreign Governments
Julian Gerez, Columbia University; Sarah Zukerman Daly, Columbia University; John Marshall, Columbia University; Elena Barham, Columbia University; Oscar Pocasangre, Columbia University

The distribution of COVID-19 vaccines may have profound implications for international relations, in addition to global health. Vaccine scarcity in the Global South has created opportunities for vaccine-developing countries—including China, India, Russia, the UK, and the US—to improve their reputations in emerging markets. Leveraging a panel survey conducted in January and May 2021, we evaluate whether “vaccine diplomacy” affects trust in foreign governments among vaccine-hesitant respondents in six Latin American countries. We find that personally receiving a vaccine durably increased trust in the government of the country where that vaccine was developed. Furthermore, providing information about the aggregate distribution of vaccines within a respondent’s country increased trust in the governments of the countries where more vaccines were developed. These increases in trust—which are most pronounced for China—appear to reflect perceptions of a common good motivation. Vaccine distribution may then cultivate soft power that could further vaccine-developing countries’ foreign policy goals.

Can Endorsement Move the Needle on Vaccine Hesitancy?
Pauline Jones, University of Michigan; Anil Menon, University of Michigan; Allen D. Hicken, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Existing research, including work specific to COVID-19, suggests that vaccine endorsement by medical practitioners increases uptake. Yet, vaccine hesitancy persists even though health professionals have continued to widely endorse vaccination since the development of multiple vaccines to combat COVID-19 in late 2020. Could endorsement by other trusted leaders be utilized to decrease vaccine hesitancy, including the perception of the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness? Although some studies suggests that trust in politicians and religious leaders can influence individuals’ health attitudes and behaviors, the evidence is mixed. Our study aimed to explore the potential added value of trust in politicians and religious leaders by testing whether their endorsement of the COVID-19 vaccine has a marginal effect where health professionals are already endorsing this vaccine. We conducted an online survey experiment with 6,000 respondents across five countries that share many key similarities but have varying levels of baseline vaccine hesitancy: Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Philippines, Thailand, and Turkey. Respondents were randomly assigned to either a control group that only included the endorsement of health professionals or one of two treatment groups that also included either the endorsement of politicians or the endorsement of religious leaders. We found that endorsement by either political leaders or religious leaders does not seem to further reduce vaccine hesitancy. Our findings suggest that medical practitioners may still be the first and best line of defense in terms of combatting vaccine hesitancy.

Partisanship, Trumpism, and Health Behavior in the COVID-19 Pandemic
Thomas Pepinsky, Cornell University; Shana Kushner Gadarian, Syracuse University; Sara Wallace Goodman, University of California, Irvine

A wide range of empirical scholarship has documented a partisan gap in health behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, but the political foundations and temporal dynamics of these partisan gaps remain poorly understood. Using an original six-wave individual panel study of Americans throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, we find that at the individual level, partisan differences in health behavior grew rapidly in the early months of the pandemic and are explained almost entirely by individual support for or opposition to President Trump. Our results comprise powerful evidence that Trumpism, rather than ideology or simple partisan identity, explains partisan gaps in health behavior in the United States.

Non-Compliance as Dissent: Societal Roots of Compliance with State Regulation
Regina A. Smyth, Indiana University

Global comparison demonstrates that Russia leads the world in non-compliance with public health policies designed to mitigate the effect of COVID-19. Viewed against, the centralized state capacity of the Russian regime, the inability to enforce public health regulations speaks to a gap in our knowledge of political behavior in strong authoritarian states. Rather than focus on state action or state capacity, this paper focuses on two societal factors that shape compliance with regulations: the social organization of enforcement and the culture of enforcement. These two factors focus attention on subcultures of compliance and non-compliance as well as norms associated with prosocial behavior: group identities and networks, beliefs, norms, values, and lessons past experiences. The empirical test of these theoretic propositions is based on a unique dataset of Muscovites whose previous compliance with state mandates have had a strong impact on daily life. The findings contribute to a deeper understanding of the limits of state regulation when it does not have the capacity to provide accurate information or challenge deeply embedded social norms designed to maintain distance between state and society.