DP16791 When Reality Bites: Local Deaths and Vaccine Take-Up

Author(s): Corrado Giulietti, Michael Vlassopoulos, Yves Zenou
Publication Date: December 2021
Keyword(s): Behavior change, COVID-19, Information, Social interactions, Vaccination hesitancy
JEL(s): H51, I12
Programme Areas: Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=16791

In this study, we investigate whether COVID-19 deaths that occurred before vaccination rollouts impact subsequent vaccination take-ups. We used data on local vaccination rates and COVID-19-related deaths from England measured at high geographic granularity. We found that vaccination take-up as of November 2021 was positively associated with pre-vaccine COVID-19-related deaths, controlling for demographic, economic, and health-related characteristics of the localities, while including geographic fixed effects. In addition, the share of ethnic minorities in a locality was negatively associated with vaccination rates, and that localities with a larger share of ethnic minorities increased their vaccination rates if they get exposed to more COVID-related-deaths. Further evidence on vaccination intention at the individual level from a representative sample corroborated these patterns. Overall, our evidence suggests that social proximity to victims of the disease triggers a desire to take protective measures against it.