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Who Does the Caring? Gender Disparities in COVID-19 Attitudes and Behaviors

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2022

Miguel Carreras
University of California, Riverside
Sofia Vera
University of Kansas
Giancarlo Visconti
Purdue University


Do men and women exhibit different attitudes and behaviors toward COVID-19 public health measures? Is there a gender gap in support for and compliance with government recommendations during a public health crisis? While the disproportionate effect of the pandemic on women suggests that they would oppose burdensome quarantine measures, theories of gender differences in prosocial and communion attitudes indicate that women should be more likely to conform with public health measures designed to protect the most vulnerable. We test hypotheses about a gender gap in attitudes toward public health recommendations through an original, nationally representative survey implemented in Peru, one of the countries hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, and the construction of a representative matched sample that allows us to make comparisons between women and men. We find that women are more likely than men to endorse lockdown measures and to support the continuation of a nationwide quarantine. We also find evidence of a gender gap in compliance with public health recommendations about avoiding crowded areas and social gatherings. Our findings have important policy implications. The results suggest that public health recommendations to fight COVID-19 should be framed in a way that maximizes compliance by both men and women.

Research Article
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Women, Gender, and Politics Research Section of the American Political Science Association

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