Trade-offs during the COVID-19 pandemic: A discrete choice experiment about policy preferences in Portugal

Luís Filipe*, Sara Valente de Almeida, Eduardo Costa, Joana Gomes da Costa, Francisca Vargas Lopes, João Vasco Santos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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The need to control the sanitary situation during the COVID-19 pandemic has led governments to implement several restrictions with substantial social and economic impacts. We explored people's trade-offs in terms of their income, life restrictions, education, and poverty in the society, compared to their willingness to avoid deaths. We applied a web-based discrete choice experiment to elicit preferences of the Portuguese citizens for these attributes and computed the marginal rate of substitution in terms of avoided deaths. We recorded 2,191 responses that faced the possibility of having 250 COVID-19 related deaths per day as the worst possible outcome from the choice levels presented. Estimates suggested that individuals would be willing to sacrifice 30% instead of 10% of their income to avoid approximately 47 deaths per day during the first six months of 2021. For the same period, they would also accept 30% of the students' population to become educationally impaired, instead of 10%, to avoid approximately 25 deaths; a strict lockdown, instead of mild life restrictions, to avoid approximately 24 deaths; and 45% of the population to be in risk of poverty, instead of 25%, to avoid approximately 101 deaths. Our paper shows that avoiding deaths was strongly preferred to the remaining societal impacts; and that being a female, as well as working on site, led individuals to be more averse to such health hazards. Furthermore, we show how a DCE can be used to assess the societal support to decision-making during times of crisis.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0278526
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12 December
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2022

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Publisher Copyright: © 2022 Filipe et al.


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