Published: 18th October 2020
Survey suggests men, women perceive COVID dangers differently, consistent with why women-led countries doing better
This behavioural factor contributes to substantial gender differences in mortality and is consistent with women-led countries responding more effectively to the pandemic
A survey has suggested a difference in the attitude of both men and women towards the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Original data from two waves of a survey conducted in March-April 2020 in eight Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries show large gender differences in COVID-19-related beliefs and behaviours.
Women are more likely to perceive the pandemic as a very serious health problem and to agree and comply with restraining measures. These differences are only partially mitigated for individuals cohabiting or directly exposed to COVID-19. This behavioural factor contributes to substantial gender differences in mortality and is consistent with women-led countries responding more effectively to the pandemic. It calls for gender-based public health policies and communication. Gender differences in attitudes and behaviour are sizable in all countries.
They are accounted for neither by sociodemographic and employment characteristics nor by psychological and behavioural factors. They are only partially mitigated for individuals who cohabit or have direct exposure to the virus. Researchers show that their results are not due to differential social desirability bias. This evidence has important implications for public health policies and communication on COVID-19, which may need to be gender-based, and it unveils a domain of gender differences: behavioural changes in response to a new risk.