Individualism vs. Collectivism and the Early-Stage Transmission of COVID-19
35 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2020 Last revised: 17 Mar 2021
Date Written: March 16, 2021
We propose a new perspective based on the individualism vs. collectivism (IC) cultural distinction to understand the diverging early-stage transmission outcomes of COVID-19 between countries. To provide a fair comparison for different countries, we use the date when the total cases per million capita reach one as the starting point of each country's outbreak. With data of sixty days after the outbreak, we find the COVID-19 spread much faster in the early stage in more individualistic societies than in more collectivistic societies. We further use pronoun drop and absolute latitude as the instruments for IC to solve reverse causality and omitted variable bias. We find a significant impact of IC cultural distinction on the early-stage transmission outcome of COVID-19. The results are robust to different measures of COVID-19 outcomes, different measures of IC, other cultural dimensions, and different sub-samples. We propose to take into account the role of IC not only for understanding the current pandemic but also for thinking about the future trend of the world.
Keywords: individualism vs. collectivism; COVID-19; government response; IV-2SLS
JEL Classification: I12; I18; Z1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation