The Political Cost of Lockdown&Apos;S Enforcement

33 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2021

See all articles by Andrea Fazio

Andrea Fazio

Sapienza University of Rome

Tommaso Reggiani

Masaryk University

Fabio Sabatini

University of Rome I


We study how the political cost of enforcing a lockdown in response to the COVID- 19 outbreak relates to citizens' propensity for altruistic punishment in Italy, the early epicenter of the pandemic. Approval for the government's management of the crisis decreases with the amount of the penalties that individuals would like to see enforced for lockdown violations. People supporting stronger punishment are more likely to consider the government's reaction to the pandemic as insufficient. However, after the establishment of tougher sanctions for risky behaviors, we observe a sudden flip in support for government. Higher amounts of the desired fines become associated with a higher probability of considering the government's policy response as too extreme, lower trust in government, and lower confidence in the truthfulness of the officially provided information. Lock-downs entail a political cost that helps explain why democracies may adopt epidemiologically suboptimal policies.

JEL Classification: D12, D83, I12, K40

Suggested Citation

Fazio, Andrea and Reggiani, Tommaso and Sabatini, Fabio, The Political Cost of Lockdown&Apos;S Enforcement. IZA Discussion Paper No. 14032, Available at SSRN:

Andrea Fazio (Contact Author)

Sapienza University of Rome ( email )

Tommaso Reggiani

Masaryk University ( email )

Zerotinovo nam. 9
60177 Brno, 603 00
Czech Republic

HOME PAGE: http://

Fabio Sabatini

University of Rome I ( email )

Piazzale Aldo Moro, 5
Rome, 00185

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics