Merlin Schaeffer (University of Copenhagen) (webinar)
29 April 2021 @ 14:00 - 15:15
- Past event
“Healthcare Chauvinism in Denmark During the COVID-19 Pandemic”
Abstract: Social science research has produced evidence of welfare chauvinism whereby citizens turn against social policies that they regard as disproportionately benefiting immigrants and their descendants. Some policymakers advocate welfare chauvinism as a means to incentivize fast labor market integration and assimilation into the mainstream more generally. These contested arguments about integration incentives can hardly be extended to the case of access to public healthcare amid the COVID-19 pandemic. On that premise we conducted two pre-registered survey experiments among representative samples of the Danish population about COVID-19 related healthcare chauvinism against recent immigrants and Muslim minorities. We conducted our first study during the outbreak of the pandemic in April 2020 and used a vignette experiment to investigate whether recent immigrants and Muslims are regarded as less deserving of hospital treatment in case of an acute and severe COVID-19 infection. Our findings suggest that there is general reciprocity-motivated welfare chauvinism against recent immigrants who have not contributed to the welfare state for long and that racism against Muslims strongly catalyzes this form of welfare chauvinism. Our second study was conducted during the first week of the Danish vaccination program, in the final week of December 2020. Based on a paired-vignette experiment, we try to find out whether recent immigrants and Muslim minorities are regarded as less deserving of an early vaccination. Only a universal vaccination program, which immunizes the population irrespective of origin and ethnicity – similar to the spread of the Coronavirus itself – will effectively fight the public health threat posed by COVID-19. Our results show that Muslim and recent immigrant diabetes patients are indeed systematically seen as less deserving of an early vaccination. These results are consistent even if we focus on patients who followed the guidelines on facemask wearing and social distancing and who have diabetes despite their responsibly healthy lifestyle. Contra our pre-registered hypotheses, we find only weak evidence that immigrants or Muslims are penalized more harshly for not having followed these guidelines, or for having diabetes because of an unhealthy lifestyle. Compared with previous research, our two studies exploit a timely and significant event to study welfare chauvinism, exclude the possibility that welfare chauvinism may be framed as incentive to integrate, and are the first to disentangle minority status from stereotypes about their anti-social freeriding behavior and irresponsible lifestyles.
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