The Economic Perspective: “Forced or Fear?”

Mary:  This is Mary Walden with economist MW, welcoming you to the economic perspective.  Today’s program asks, forced or fear.  Mike, many people stayed away from shops and stores during the height of the coronavirus.   Also, most states had mandates restricting travel to many shops and stores that weren’t designated as essential.  So it’s easy to conclude that the restrictions caused people to stay at home. But I understand some new research casts doubt on this conclusion.


Mike:  Summary Answer

  • Yes, just published from the University of Chicago
  • Used data on business restrictions as well as virus cases and deaths to try to decide if it was the mandates or the fear that motivated people to stay at home
  • Their conclusion: both were important, but fear dominated
  • One policy conclusion – if mandates are relaxed, people still may not go back to previous shopping if don’t feel safe
  • I’m MW


Mary:  And I’m Mary Walden for the Economic Perspective, an NC State Extension program from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics