Liberté, Égalité, Crédibilité: An Experimental Study of Citizens' Perceptions of Government Responses to COVID‐19 in Eight Countries


During a global pandemic, individual views of government can be linked to citizens’ trust and cooperation with government and their propensity to resist state policies or to take action that influences the course of a pandemic. This article explores citizens’ assessments of government responses to COVID‐19 as a function of policy substance (restrictions on civil liberties), information about performance, and socio‐economic inequity in outcomes. We conduct a survey experiment and analyze data on over 7,000 respondents from eight democratic countries. We find that across countries citizens are less favorable towards COVID‐19 policies that are more restrictive of civil liberties. Additionally, citizens’ views of government performance are significantly influenced by objective performance information from reputable sources and information on the disproportionate impacts of COVID‐19 on low‐income groups. This study reinforces the importance of policy design and outcomes and the consideration of multiple public values in the implementation of public policies.

Public Administration Review