Marco Mantovani

Seminar Marco Mantovani

On Friday May 27nd, Marco Mantovani will be presenting a seminar entitled “Moral preferences over taboo trade-offs in the time of coronavirus”


Covid-19 brought to the forefront of the political agenda the trade-off between health and economic activities. Leveraging theoretical and empirical tools from economics we estimate moral preferences over fatalities and jobs losses due to the pandemic in Italy, the UK and the US. The exercise allows to characterize those preferences not in a specific situation, but for any point in the space of possible combinations of the two outcomes. This allows to estimate how people respond to the severity of the economic and/or health toll. We find health weights more than economic activity, and respondents’ stable traits (such as political orientation or risk aversion) influence attitudes more than their personal experiences with the consequences of the pandemic. Most importantly, policy responses look misaligned with estimated preferences. Italy adopted more stringent containment measures, while Italian respondents display a relatively weaker pro-health attitude. We stress-test this result and find it is robust: it does not stem either from a reaction to the policies adopted or from differences in fundamentals, such as labor market conditions and health costs.