Covid Crisis Lab - Seminar Series - Talk by Bruno Arpino

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COVID CRISIS LAB Seminar Series 2023 — Fall edition

Bruno Arpino, “Do close kin influence COVID-19 precautionary behaviors and vaccine acceptance of older individuals?” 


The seminar is based on joint work with Valeria Bordone (University of Vienna, Austria; and Giorgio Di Gessa (University College London, UK; The family plays a central role in shaping health behaviors of its members through social control and support mechanisms. We investigate whether and to what extent close kin (i.e., partner and children) have mattered for older people in taking on precautionary behaviors (e.g., physical distancing) and vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe.

The positive impact of education on health, also trough a positive influence on health behaviors, have been widely recognized in the pre-COVID literature. Studies have also found evidence for positive spillover effects of partner’s and children’s education on older people’s health and mortality. Inspired by this strand of the literature, we also examine the role of individual’s, partner’s and children’s education in influencing COVID-19 vaccine acceptance.

Drawing on data from SHARE (Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe), we combine its Corona Surveys (June-August 2020 and June-August 2021) with pre-COVID information (October 2019-March2020). We find that having close kin (especially a partner) is associated with a higher probability of both adopting precautionary behaviors and accepting a COVID-19 vaccine. Independently of individual levels of education, older adults with kin are particularly likely to accept COVID-19 vaccines if their close kin are highly educated.

Our findings suggest that policy makers and practitioners may differently address kinless individuals when promoting public policy measures. Our research also confirms the key role of education in promoting health behaviors also in the context of COVID vaccination campaigns.


Bruno Arpino is a full professor in Social Statistics at the Department of Statistical Sciences, University of Padua (Italy). His previous appointments include positions at the University of Florence (Italy) and at the Pomepu Fabra University (Spain) where he also co-directed the Research and Expertise Centre on Survey Methodology (RECSM). His research interests are in the areas of causal inference and social gerontology and demography. His substantive research focuses on intergenerational relationships, older adults’ health and wellbeing, and fertility.


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