Social connections with COVID-19-affected areas increase compliance with mobility restrictions

Sci Adv. 2020 Nov 18;6(47):eabc3054. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abc3054. Print 2020 Nov.


We study the role of social connections in compliance of U.S. households with mobility restrictions imposed in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, using aggregated and anonymized Facebook data on social connections and mobile phone data for measuring social distancing at the county level. Relative to the average restriction efficacy, a county with one-SD more social connections with China and Italy-the first countries with major COVID-19 outbreaks-has a nearly 50% higher compliance with mobility restrictions. By contrast, social connections of counties with less-educated populations, a higher Trump vote share, and a higher fraction of climate change deniers show decreased compliance with mobility restrictions. Our analysis suggests that social connections are conduits of information about the pandemic and an economically important factor affecting compliance with, and impact of, mobility restrictions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • COVID-19 / virology
  • China / epidemiology
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Family Characteristics
  • Government Regulation
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination / methods*
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Pandemics / prevention & control*
  • Physical Distancing*
  • Quarantine / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Quarantine / methods*
  • SARS-CoV-2*
  • Social Media
  • United States / epidemiology