Determinants of COVID-19 masking among artisanal fisherfolks in Ghana: the role of time discounting

Peer Reviewed
13 April 2023

Wisdom Akpalu, Kwami Adanu

PurposeDaily COVID-19-related morbidity and mortality rates are still high globally, and masking is considered a reliable method of preventing its infections. Yet, the rate of voluntary compliance with masking remains very low in most parts of the world, especially in developing countries. The authors hypothesize that the decision to wear a mask entails some benefit-cost analysis that involves time discounting. In addition, the authors surmise that feel-good benefits from pro-social behavior and from wearing fashionable masks are substantial.Design/methodology/approachThe study is based on a survey of 900 fishermen and fish traders in Ghana. A simple experiment was designed to elicit individual rates of time preference. In addition, the fishers were asked questions about their political affiliation and knowledge of the COVID-19 pandemic, among others. A logit model is used to investigate the determinants of the decision to wear a mask.FindingsThe authors found that masking compliance increases in time discounting for fishmongers, suggesting that private benefits from pro-social behavior or feel-good benefits from wearing a mask are very strong. In addition, those who belonged to the ruling political party were more likely to wear a mask. Other factors increasing the likelihood of masking include affiliation with the ruling political party, knowledge of COVID-19 and knowledge of someone who lost his/her job due to COVID-19.Originality/valueTo the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to investigate the effect of time discounting on the voluntary compliance of a health safety measure, which could provide a direct utility. In addition, the study explores the effect of political affiliation on voluntary masking behavior.

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Publication reference
Akpalu, W., & Adanu, K. (2023). Determinants of COVID-19 masking among artisanal fisherfolks in Ghana: the role of time discounting. African Journal of Economic and Management Studies, 14(3), 477–489.
Publication | 8 January 2024