Public health response to COVID-19 requires behavior changes— isolation at home, wearing masks. Its effectiveness depends on generalized compliance. Original data from two waves of a survey conducted in March−April 2020 in eight Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries (n =21,649) show large gender differences in COVID-19−related beliefs and behaviors. 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 behavioral 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.
“The Politics of Aging and Retirement: Evidence from Swiss Referenda” 2020, Population Studies, (with P. Bello)
Ageing threatens the financial sustainability of pay-as-you-go pension systems, since it increases the share of retirees to workers. An often-advocated policy response is to increase retirement age. Ironically, however, the political support for this policy may actually be hindered by population ageing. Using Swiss administrative voting data at municipal level from pension reform referenda (and individual survey data), we show in fact that individuals close to retirement tend to oppose policies that postpone retirement, whereas younger and older individuals are more favourable. The current process of population ageing and the associated increase in the size of the cohort of individuals close to retirement may partially explain why a pension reform that increased retirement age for women was approved in two referenda in 1995 and 1998, while a reform that proposed a similar increase in women’s retirement age was defeated in a 2017 referendum.
“Information and Women’s Intentions: Experimental Evidence About Child Care”, 2017, European Journal of Population, pp. 109–128 (with P. Profeta, C. Pronzato and F. Billari)
We investigate the effect of providing information about the benefits to children of attending formal child care when women intend to use formal child care so they can work. We postulate that the reaction to the information differs across women according to their characteristics, specifically their level of education. We present a randomized experiment in which 700 Italian women of reproductive age with no children are exposed to positive information about formal child care through a text message or a video, while others are not. We find a positive effect on the intention to use formal child care and a negative effect on the intention to work. This average result hides important heterogeneities: the positive effect on formal child care use is driven by high-educated women, while the negative effect on work intention is found only among less-educated women. These findings may be explained by women’s education reflecting their work–family orientation, and their ability to afford formal child care.