Fostering trust in state authorities during the COVID-19 pandemic: Evidence from Liberia

Project Active from to State Effectiveness, State and COVID-19

The lack of trust in the government inhibited the responses to the Ebola epidemics in West Africa (2014-16) and the DRC (2018-present), and the current COVID-19 pandemic. With poor health infrastructure and mistrust in state institutions, Liberia is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to infectious diseases like COVID-19.

The experience with epidemics and lack of trust in state authorities are the primary factors shaping risk perception during a crisis, and thus compliance with desired social behaviour (Wachinger et al. 2013). This project will foster collaboration between the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), the Ministry of Health (MoH), and local community leaderships to develop, pilot, and measure the impacts of trust-related information interventions that have the potential to reduce the risk of disease transmission and bolster civilian trust in state authorities.

The project will create a profile of individuals receptive to misinformation, develop, and then test an ad-hoc randomized information intervention on COVID-19 targeted to this profile. By following-up a sample of about 2,265 respondents already interviewed during the Ebola epidemic (Maffioli 2020), we aim to study the role of trust in governmental institutions in deterring the spread of outbreak-related misinformation among the general population.