Public Opinion and Voting Behavior

Why Are Wealthier Countries More Vaccine Skeptical?: How Internet Access Drives Global Vaccine Skepticism

Kristin Lunz Trujillo Author ORCID home | opens in new tab Carleton College & University of Minnesota
,
Matt Motta Oklahoma State University

Abstract

Vaccine skepticism interferes with governments’ abilities to maintain public safety. However, vaccine skepticism positively predicts country wealth rather than negatively. One explanation is that higher internet access could help spread anti-vaccine misinformation throughout society, particularly for those lower in scientific and medical expert trust (Online Accessibility hypothesis). An alternative explanation is that citizens in richer countries are less aware of vaccine-preventable disease risks because they are rarely experienced directly (Out of Sight hypothesis). To test these hypotheses, we merge country-level data with nationally-representative survey data (N = 149,014) from 144 countries. We find evidence for the Online Accessibility hypothesis; people in countries with greater internet access are significantly more likely to be vaccine skeptical. Further, we examine Americans’ vaccine attitudes during the COVID-19 outbreak - where a communicable disease is very ‘in-sight. ’We find anti-vaccine attitudes are similar to higher than pre-outbreak levels, which counters the Out of Sight Hypothesis.

Content

Thumbnail image of content item
cloud_download

Supplementary material

Thumbnail image of content item
cloud_download
Supplemental Materials
Appendix/Supplemental materials.

Comments

Log in or register with APSA to comment open_in_new
Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting Policy open_in_new – please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here open_in_new .
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy open_in_new and Terms of Service open_in_new apply.