Trust and COVID Precautionary Measures during the Early Days of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Evidence from Two African Countries


This study examines how trust was associated with social distancing during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in Burkina Faso and Kenya. It fills gaps in previous research on trust and health by 1) simultaneously considering the relationship of individual- and aggregate-level indicators of trust, and 2) evaluating trust in local government and national government separately. Performance Monitoring for Action (PMA) data on COVID-precautionary measures and individual-level trust measures were spatially linked with aggregated trust data from the Afrobarometer to create a multilevel dataset. PMA data show that women in Kenya were generally more likely to report taking COVID-precautionary measures relative to Burkinabé women, although levels of these measures were high in both countries. Hierarchical logistic models for each country show levels of interpersonal trust mattered more in Burkina Faso. Although the association between individual-level trust in government and social distancing was not statistically significant, overall levels of trust in the region where an individual lived were associated with social distancing. We found a significant interaction effect between regional trust in the national government and regional trust in local government: individuals in regions where trust was high in both national and local government were the most likely to socially distance; individuals in regions with low local government trust but high national government trust were less likely to report social distancing. We unpack possible implications of these findings; they point to the importance of a unified government front within African countries in promoting health safety measures during a pandemic.

SSM - Population Health
Jiao Yu
Jiao Yu
Postdoctoral Associate

Aging and Life Course, Health Disparities, Machining Learning, Quantitative Methods