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Revenge of the experts: Will COVID-19 renew or diminish public trust in science?

Eichengreen, B., Aksoy, C. G. and Saka, O. ORCID: 0000-0002-1822-1309 (2021). Revenge of the experts: Will COVID-19 renew or diminish public trust in science?. Journal of Public Economics, 193, 104343. doi: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2020.104343

Abstract

It is sometimes said that an effect of the COVID-19 pandemic will be heightened appreciation of the importance of scientific research and expertise. We test this hypothesis by examining how exposure to previous epidemics affected trust in science and scientists. Building on the “impressionable years hypothesis” that attitudes are durably formed during the ages 18–25, we focus on individuals exposed to epidemics in their country of residence at this particular stage of the life course. Combining data from a 2018 Wellcome Trust survey of more than 75,000 individuals in 138 countries with data on global epidemics since 1970, we show that such exposure has no impact on views of science as an endeavor but that it significantly reduces trust in scientists and in the benefits of their work. We also illustrate that the decline in trust is driven by the individuals with little previous training in science subjects. Finally, our evidence suggests that epidemic-induced distrust translates into lower compliance with health-related policies in the form of negative views towards vaccines and lower rates of child vaccination.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2020. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ . This article has been published in Journal of Public Economics, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpubeco.2020.104343
Publisher Keywords: Epidemics, Trust, Scientists, Impressionable years
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Arts & Social Sciences > Economics
Date available in CRO: 23 Sep 2021 08:14
Date deposited: 23 September 2021
Date of acceptance: 11 November 2020
Date of first online publication: 21 November 2020
URI: https://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/26783
[img] Text - Accepted Version
This document is not freely accessible until 21 November 2023 due to copyright restrictions.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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