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Have I Saved Enough To Social Distance? The Role Of Household Financial Preparedness In Public Health Response

Journal of Consumer Affairs

Dee Warmath, Genevieve Elizabeth O'Connor, Casey Newmeyer, Nancy Wong

2022

Behavioral responses such as social distancing are important in the fight to contain COVID-19 transmission, yet motivating such responses is an overwhelming, resource-intensive task. Using multi-wave data from 23,735 US adults collected in May/September 2020, and January 2021, this study examines how financial preparedness in the form of savings influences the relationship predicted by the Health Belief Model between the degree of concern for COVID-19 and engagement in social distancing. Findings indicate that general concern for COVID-19 is related to the decision to engage in social distancing for individuals who have less saved. Curiously, higher levels of financial preparedness are associated with a lower likelihood of social distancing at least among people who had been laid off during the pandemic. The findings suggest a tradeoff between protecting one's standard of living and their health. Government and public health agencies should consider financial preparedness in the design of public health communications.

Financial Preparedness, Financial Well-Being

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