Greg Huber and Jen Wu Study Partisan Differences in Social Distancing Behavior

blue sneakers and red sneakers facing each other with "Social Distance" written in between
March 22, 2021

CSAP affiliates Gregory Huber and Jennifer Wu have published a new study that identifies social norms and beliefs as a potential explanation for the partisan difference between Democrats and Republicans in social distancing behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their methodology uses a series of ordinary least squares regression specifications on novel survey data collected in April through June of 2020.  They find that:

“…Democrats are more likely to report social distancing than are Republicans, even after controlling for a range of demographic variables that might otherwise account for differences in social distancing and that these differences are found in partisans’ norms and beliefs around social distancing. Our main analysis shows that the partisan difference in social distancing disappears when we control for social norms and beliefs, suggesting their salience in changing social distancing behaviors.”

These results contribute to current research focused on mitigating the spread of COVID-19 by highlighting a mechanism, norms and beliefs, for interventions to target.

Read their paper, “Partisan Differences in Social Distancing May Originate in Norms and Beliefs: Results from Novel Data,” published in Social Science Quarterly (March 16, 2021).