Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Are distributional preferences for safety stable? A longitudinal analysis before and after the COVID-19 outbreak

Arroyos-Calvera, Danae; Covey, Judith; McDonald, Rebecca


Danae Arroyos-Calvera

Rebecca McDonald


Policy makers aim to respect public preferences when making trade-offs between policies, yet most estimates of the value of safety neglect individuals' preferences over how safety is distributed. Incorporating these preferences into policy first requires measuring them. Arroyos-Calvera et al. (2019) documented that people cared most about efficiency, but that equity followed closely, and self-interest mattered too, but not enough to override preferences for efficiency and equity. Early 2020 saw the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This event would impose major changes in how people perceived and experienced risk to life, creating an opportunity to test whether safety-related preferences are stable and robust to important contextual changes. Further developing Arroyos-Calvera et al.’s methodology and re-inviting an international general population sample of participants that had taken part in pre-pandemic online surveys in 2017 and 2018, we collected an April 2020 wave of the survey and showed that overall preferences for efficiency, equity and self-interest were remarkably stable before and after the pandemic outbreak. We hope this offers policy makers reassurance that once these preferences have been elicited from a representative sample of the population, they need not be re-estimated after important contextual changes.


Arroyos-Calvera, D., Covey, J., & McDonald, R. (2023). Are distributional preferences for safety stable? A longitudinal analysis before and after the COVID-19 outbreak. Social Science & Medicine, 324, Article 115855.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 17, 2023
Online Publication Date Mar 23, 2023
Publication Date 2023-05
Deposit Date Mar 31, 2023
Publicly Available Date Mar 24, 2024
Journal Social Science & Medicine
Print ISSN 0277-9536
Electronic ISSN 1873-5347
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 324
Article Number 115855