COVID-19 regulations, culture, and the environment

Aatishya Mohanty* (Corresponding Author), Swati Sharma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The economic and social disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are immense. Unexpectedly, a positive outcome of the stringent Covid restrictions has come in the form of air pollution reduction. Pollution reduction, however, has not happened everywhere at equal rates. Why are lockdown measures not producing this positive externality in all countries? Using satellite-based Aerosol Optical Depth data and panel analysis conducted at the country-day level, we find that the countries that have adopted stringent COVID-19 containment policies have experienced better air quality. Nonetheless, this relationship depends on the cultural orientation of a society. Our estimates indicate that the effect of policy stringency is lower in societies imbued with a collectivistic culture. The findings highlight the role of cultural differences in the successful implementation of policies and the realization of their intended outcomes. It implies that pollution mitigation policies are less likely to yield emission reduction in collectivist societies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105874
Number of pages11
JournalEconomic Modelling
Early online date17 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

The authors thank the editor Sushanta Mallick, two insightful referees, Ian Bateman, Cheng Keat Tang and Christian A. Vossler for helpful discussions and comments. James B. Ang provided especially generous input.


  • COVID-19
  • Government policy
  • Environment
  • Pollution
  • Culture
  • Individualism


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