Working Papers

Heterogeneity in the Support for Mandatory Masks Unveiled

Muhammad Maaz, Anastasios Papanastasiou, Bradley J. Ruffle, Angela L. Zheng

Despite well-documented benefits of wearing a mask to reduce COVID-19 transmission, widespread opposition to mandating mask-wearing persists. Both our game-theoretic model and our unique survey dataset point to heterogeneity in the perceived benefits and perceived costs of mask-wearing. Young, healthy, Canadian-born adult males who are politically conservative or without a college education are all more likely to oppose mandatory mask laws, as are individuals who do not take climate change seriously and who express less trust in doctors and in elected officials. Political conservatives disproportionately cite not wanting to live in fear and infringements on personal freedoms as reasons for not wearing masks. Our findings cannot be explained by individuals who substitute physical distancing for mask-wearing. We show that these two precautionary measures are complements.

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Paper Keywords

COVID-19, mandatory protective masks, heterogeneity in beliefs, ideology, political Partisanship