DP14821 Covid-19 Crisis Fuels Hostility against Foreigners

Author(s): Vojtech Bartos, Michal Bauer, Jana Cahlíková, Julie Chytilova
Publication Date: May 2020
Date Revised: June 2020
Keyword(s): COVID-19, discrimination, Experiment, health and economic crisis, hostility, inter-group conflict
JEL(s): C90, D01, D63, D91, J15
Programme Areas: Development Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14821

Aggressive behavior against out-group members often rises during periods of economic hardship and health pandemics. Here, we test the widespread concern that the Covid-19 crisis may fuel hostility against people from other nations or ethnic minorities. Using a controlled money-burning task, we elicited hostile behavior among a nationally representative sample (n=2,186) in the Czech Republic, at a time when the entire population was under lockdown. We provide causal evidence that exogenously elevating salience of the Covid-19 crisis magnifies hostility against foreigners. This behavioral response is similar across various demographic sub-groups. The results underscore the importance of not inflaming anti-foreigner sentiments and suggest that efforts to restore international trade and cooperation will need to address both social and economic damage.