[Accessed 31 Aug 2019]
The effect of trust and proximity on vaccine propensity
Florian Justwan, Bert Baumgaertner, Juliet E. Carlisle, Emma Carson, Jordan Kizer
Research Article | published 28 Aug 2019 PLOS ONE
The main goal of this paper is to study the effects of (1) trust in government medical experts and (2) proximity to a recent disease outbreak on vaccine propensity. More specifically, we explore how these variables affect attitudes with regards to measles. Using original survey data, collected in January/February 2017, we obtain three main empirical findings. First, contrary to our expectations, an individual’s proximity to a recent measles outbreak has no independent effect on vaccination attitudes. Second, corroborating previous studies in the field, we find that trust in institutions such as the CDC has a positive effect on our dependent variable. Third, there is a significant interactive relationship between proximity and trust in governmental medical experts. While distance from a previous measles outbreak has no effect on vaccination attitudes for respondents with medium or high levels of trust, the variable exerts a negative effect for subjects with little confidence in government medical experts. In other words: low-trust individuals who live farther away from a recent measles outbreak harbor less favorable views about vaccination for this particular disease than low-trust respondents who live close to an affected area. This implies that citizens who are skeptical of the CDC and similar institutions base their vaccination decision-making to some degree on whether or not a given disease occurs in close vicinity to their community.