How leaders’ speeches impact social distancing behaviour

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In Brazil, President Bolsonaro has publicly flaunted social distancing measures and downplayed the seriousness of the disease in at least two well-publicised instances.

This column analyses the effects of Bolsonaro’s actions and speeches in the month of March on Brazilians’ social-distancing behaviors, using electoral data and geo-localised mobile phone data from 60 million devices. The findings suggest that social distancing behavior decreased in municipalities with stronger support for Bolsonaro.

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