Public support for more stringent vaccine policies increases with vaccine effectiveness

Richard Koenig, Manu Manthri Savani*, Blake Lee-Whiting, John McAndrews, Sanchayan Banerjee, Andrew Hunter, Peter John, Peter John Loewen, Brendan Nyhan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Under what conditions do citizens support coercive public policies? Although recent research suggests that people prefer policies that preserve freedom of choice, such as behavioural nudges, many citizens accepted stringent policy interventions like fines and mandates to promote vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic—a pattern that may be linked to the unusually high effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. We conducted a large online survey experiment (N = 42,417) in the Group of Seven (G-7) countries investigating the relationship between a policy’s effectiveness and public support for stringent policies. Our results indicate that public support for stringent vaccination policies increases as vaccine effectiveness increases, but at a modest scale. This relationship flattens at higher levels of vaccine effectiveness. These results suggest that intervention effectiveness can be a significant predictor of support for coercive policies but only up to some threshold of effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1748
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Early online date19 Jan 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jan 2024


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