Anticipation of COVID-19 vaccines reduces willingness to socially distance

Ola Andersson, Pol Campos-Mercade, Armando N. Meier, Erik Wengström*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


We investigate how the anticipation of COVID-19 vaccines affects voluntary social distancing. In a large-scale preregistered survey experiment with a representative sample, we study whether providing information about the safety, effectiveness, and availability of COVID-19 vaccines affects the willingness to comply with public health guidelines. We find that vaccine information reduces peoples’ voluntary social distancing, adherence to hygiene guidelines, and their willingness to stay at home. Getting positive information on COVID-19 vaccines induces people to believe in a swifter return to normal life. The results indicate an important behavioral drawback of successful vaccine development: An increased focus on vaccines can lower compliance with public health guidelines and accelerate the spread of infectious disease. The results imply that, as vaccinations roll out and the end of a pandemic feels closer, policies aimed at increasing social distancing will be less effective, and stricter policies might be required.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102530
Peer-reviewed scientific journalJournal of Health Economics
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 15.09.2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • Economic epidemiology
  • Information
  • Public health communication
  • Social distancing
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccine information

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoS: Competition economics and service strategy - Quantitative consumer behaviour and competition economics


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