Determinants of Public Support for COVID-19 Containment Policies in Germany: Evidence from Individual-Level Panel Analyses

(with Roni Lehrer, Annelies G. Blom, Alexander Wenz, Tobias Rettig, Ulrich Krieger, Marina Fikel, Carina Cornesse, Elias Naumann, and Katja Möhring)

What determines public support for far-reaching policy measures to prevent a rapid spread of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)? Relying on sixteen weeks of daily individual-level panel data (March to July 2020) from the Mannheim Corona Study, we investigate to what extent Germans changed their opinions toward different containment measures, including the closure of educational and childcare institutions and a general curfew. Our panel study allows us to trace back these dynamics to changes in regional Corona incident rates, individual threat perceptions, and the personal economic situation during the lockdown. We also investigate to what extent individual characteristics such as educational background, pre-existing health conditions, and the political orientation affect which containment strategies citizens endorse at different stages of the pandemic. Importantly, our unique panel design allows us to obtain a better understanding of the determinants and dynamics of individual beliefs about the most appropriate governmental response. Since public support is a crucial ingredient of democratic governance, our results provide novel and highly relevant insights that help scholars and policy-makers to understand citizen attitudes and develop appropriate policy responses in times of crisis.

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