Risk perceptions and politics: Evidence from the COVID-19 pandemic

John M. Barrios, Yael V. Hochberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Politics may color interpretations of facts, and thus perceptions of risk. We find that a higher share of Trump voters in a county is associated with lower perceptions of risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. Controlling for COVID-19 case counts and deaths, as Trump's vote share rises in the local area, individuals search less for information on the virus and its potential economic impacts, and engage in fewer visits to non-essential businesses. Our results suggest that politics and the media may play an important role in determining the formation of risk perceptions, and may therefore affect both economic and health-related reactions to unanticipated health crises.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)862-879
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Financial Economics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Expectations
  • Pandemics
  • Polarization
  • Political partisanship
  • Risk perceptions
  • Social distancing and compliance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Strategy and Management


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