(Non)adhering to measures to control COVID 19: Insights from Behavioral Economics


  • Rivu Basu Bankura Sammilani Medical College West Bengal
  • Achin Chakraborty Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata




Covid Control, Cognitive biases, Behavioral economics


It is now apparent that as a measure to contain Covid-19 pandemic the scope for strict lockdown is rather limited because of its serious negative impact on the lives and livelihood of people. Therefore measures such as wearing masks, washing hands and avoiding crowded places turn out to be the most important ways of preventing spread of the virus. However, adoption of and adherence to these practices depends largely on voluntary compliance as it is difficult to strictly monitor people’s behavior. In this paper the authors argue that for better results we need to first understand the reasons for non-adherence, and in an attempt to understand, the emerging field of behavioral economics can be of help. Different elements of behavioral economics, such as, the prospect theory with its cognitive biases like heuristics, anchoring, salience, and above all, social norms are capable of explaining many of the behaviors that have relevance to management of the pandemic. The moral philosophic position that underlies behavioral economics can be located somewhere between libertarianism and paternalism. While libertarianism tends to prioritize an individual’s freedom to choose, paternalism takes the view that the individual may not always know what is good for her/him. ‘Libertarian paternalism’, on the other hand, would allow public institutions to influence one’s behavior while respecting freedom of choice. In the absence of hard data, popular media reports and anecdotal evidence have been used in this essentially interpretative exercise.




How to Cite

Basu, R., & Chakraborty, A. (2021). (Non)adhering to measures to control COVID 19: Insights from Behavioral Economics. Journal of Comprehensive Health, 9(2), 106–111. https://doi.org/10.53553/JCH.v09i02.012