Policy Burden, Issue Salience, and COVID-19 Policy Adoption in China

Study exploring why some of these policies diffused more quickly across provinces than others during COVID19 in China and finding policy features matter.(Working Paper)

By Jielu Yao, Yuehong Tai, Elise Pizzi in Research


Provincial governments in China responded quickly and effectively to the COVID-19 outbreak in China. Governments adopted a range of policies from publishing new health statistics to restricting movement. We explore why some of these policies were adopted more quickly across provinces than others. We focus on one key characteristic of policy to explain the speed of diffusion: the location of the policy burden. Policies that demand change in behavior by government officials are efficient and can be carefully controlled. In contrast, policies that demand changes in behavior by the public are distant from the nexus of government control and require monitoring and enforcement. Policies that burden the public may also be unpopular. We compile a new dataset on the speed of diffusion of 25 COVID-19 response and containment policies and assess whether each policy places a burden on the government, the public, or both. We find that policy burden has an conditional impact on the policy adoption - as the issue became more salient nationwide, the provincial governments are more likely to adopt the policies that burden themselves and the public and less likely to adopt the policies that burden the public alone. At the same time, factors that more generally influence adoption - central government advocacy, neighboring province adoption, and local leadership - still play a key role in explaining how COVID-19 diffuse among provinces. Our results demonstrate the importance of identifying the interaction between policy burdens and public opinion in order to explain policy adoption and diffusion.

Covid19 Policy Adoption Proportion Across Policy Burden Attribute

policy adoption

Posted on:
October 21, 2022
2 minute read, 258 words
covid19 policy diffusion response
See Also:
Gubernatorial Executive Orders or Bills? Determinants of States’ Action Choice during the COVID-19 Pandemic