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Economic stressors and the enactment of CDC-recommended COVID-19 prevention behaviors: The impact of state-level context.
Journal of Applied Psychology  (IF7.429),  Pub Date : 2020-12-01, DOI: 10.1037/apl0000797
Tahira M. Probst, Hyun Jung Lee, Andrea Bazzoli

In order to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a list of recommended preventative health behaviors for Americans to enact, including social distancing, frequent handwashing, and limiting nonessential trips from home. Drawing upon scarcity theory, the purpose of this study was to examine whether the economic stressors of perceived job insecurity and perceived financial insecurity are related to employee self-reports of enacting such behaviors. Moreover, we tested propositions regarding the impact of two state-level contextual variables that may moderate those relationships: the generosity of unemployment insurance benefits and extensiveness of statewide COVID-19-related restrictions. Using a multilevel data set of N = 745 currently employed U.S. workers nested within 43 states, we found that both job insecurity and financial insecurity were negatively related to the enactment of the CDC-recommended guidelines. However, the state-level variables acted as cross-level moderators, such that the negative relationship between job insecurity and compliance with the CDC guidelines was attenuated within states that have a more robust unemployment system. However, working in a state with more extensive COVID-19 restrictions seemed to primarily benefit more financially secure workers. When statewide policies were more restrictive, employees reporting more financial security were more likely to enact the CDC-recommended guidelines compared to their financially insecure counterparts. We discuss these findings in light of the continuing need to develop policies to address the public health crisis while also protecting employees facing economic stressors. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).