The effect of the COVID‐19 crisis on economic and social preferences

Using incentivized decision tasks, we elicit risk, ambiguity, time and pro-social preferences in a heterogeneous sample from the Dutch population, directly before and over a one-year period during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Netherlands, including two lockdown phases. This allows us to draw causal inferences on how the Corona crisis affects preferences. By controlling for heterogeneity among participants’ exposure to the COVID-19 crisis in a variety of domains we can also analyze if and how preferences respond to the degree an individual is affected by the pandemic. We nd that economic preferences remain remarkably stable during the COVID-19 pandemic. Comparing preferences before the start and during the pandemic, we do not observe robust differences in any of the elicited preferences. Moreover, individual differences in the exposure to the crisis in the health and the career domain and differences in beliefs about the duration of the crisis do not seem to affect preferences. At the same time,
we observe some shifts in risk and time preferences among participants with a high exposure to the crisis in the financial domain.

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