Anticipation of COVID-19 vaccines reduces social distancing

Ola Andersson, Pol Campos-Mercade, Armando N. Meier, Erik Wengström

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigate how the anticipation of COVID-19 vaccines affects voluntary social distancing. In a large-scale preregistered survey experiment with a representative sample, we study whether providing information about the safety, effectiveness, and availability of COVID-19 vaccines affects the willingness to comply with public health guidelines. We find that vaccine information reduces peoples’ voluntary social distancing, adherence to hygiene guidelines, and their willingness to stay at home. Getting positive information on COVID-19 vaccines induces people to believe in a swifter return to normal life. The results indicate an important behavioral drawback of successful vaccine development: An increased focus on vaccines can lower compliance with public health guidelines and accelerate the spread of infectious disease. The results imply that, as vaccinations roll out and the end of a pandemic feels closer, policies aimed at increasing social distancing will be less effective, and stricter policies might be required.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102530
JournalJournal of Health Economics
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Economics

Free keywords

  • Vaccine information
  • Social distancing
  • Vaccination
  • Information
  • Economic epidemiology
  • Public health communication


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