REOPEN | Corona Pandemic Lockdown Preferences

Measures to control the Sars-CoV-2 pandemic: the trade-off between public health, economy and civil rights

The outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) poses a major challenge to health care systems in many countries. Despite great uncertainty about the success or failure of measures to protect the population and avoid overloading the health care system, decision-makers are forced to make far-reaching decisions. A balance must be struck between public health, business and civil rights. The acceptance of restrictive measures depends strongly on taking into account the preferences of the affected population groups. However, policy makers cannot rely on information on population preferences. It therefore remains unclear to what extent citizens support measures to contain the pandemic and to what extent they are prepared to accept economic or health consequences.

Eliciting population preferences

To elicit the preferences of the population, we designed a Discrete Choice Experiment (DCE). A DCE is an econometric approach for determining preferences for characteristics (e.g. price) and levels of characteristics (e.g. 10 € or 25 €) of products or services. The participants in the experiment are given several different alternatives to choose from in hypothetical choice situations. The alternatives are described by different characteristics and its levels. The attributes in our research study represent economic and social measures taken by political decision-makers (e.g. contact and exit restrictions) and possible consequences of these measures (e.g. decline in the country’s economic performance or individual income). Other attributes relate to consequences of the coronavirus itself (e.g. excess mortality or risk of infection). In repeated choice situations, the participants choose the best alternative. Based on the choices made, the significance of the characteristics and its levels for the participants and the influence of each attribute on the choice decisions can be statistically evaluated.

Further information about the method:
Choice Experiments to Quantify Preferences for Health and Healthcare
Experimental measurement of preferences in health and healthcare using best-worst scaling: an overview
Experimental measurement of preferences in health care using best-worst scaling (BWS): theoretical and statistical issues

Aim, conclusion and achieved findings

Are citizens willing to accept economic losses, and if so, to what extent? Are citizens willing to accept an increased excess mortality rate in order to stabilize the economy? What financial losses would people accept during a pandemic? What individual risk of infection are people prepared to accept? What role does data security play when using a Corona App? The aim of this study is to answer these and similar questions and to analyze the preferences of the population. The results of this study can help politicians and other decision-makers to make sustainable decisions that take into account the perspective of the population. Finally, understanding and taking into account the preferences of the population can lead to a better acceptance for political decisions. Future decisions on restrictive political interventions during a pandemic can be taken in agreement with the population and implemented more easily and sustainably.