Individualism and the fight against COVID-19

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number120
Journal / PublicationHumanities and Social Sciences Communications
Online published6 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022



What is the role of societal culture in the individualism-collectivism paradigm in pandemic containment? In the prolonged fight against COVID-19, government-initiated non-pharmaceutical interventions critically hinges on citizens’ adherence to these restrictive policies. Using an international setting, this research shows that countries scoring high on individualism generally have a more severe COVID-19 situation throughout the trajectory of the pandemic. This link between individualism and the severity of the virus situation is plausibly due to social non-cooperativeness in individualistic countries which reduces the effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical interventions aimed at mitigating the virus situation. Exploiting cultural disparity in the individualism-collectivism paradigm between former East and West German districts, this research further demonstrates that, after controlling for local characteristics that can affect the pandemic outcome, former East German districts have a less severe COVID-19 situation than former West German districts. Evidence collectively suggests that a greater reluctance among people in more individualistic cultures to heed virus-fighting policies impose a negative public health externality in a pandemic.

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Individualism and the fight against COVID-19. / Huang, Li; Li, Oliver Zhen; Wang, Baiqiang et al.
In: Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, Vol. 9, 120, 2022.

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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