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      Public participation in crisis policymaking. How 30,000 Dutch citizens advised their government on relaxing COVID-19 lockdown measures

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          Abstract

          Following the outbreak of COVID-19, governments took unprecedented measures to curb the spread of the virus. Public participation in decisions regarding (the relaxation of) these measures has been notably absent, despite being recommended in the literature. Here, as one of the exceptions, we report the results of 30,000 citizens advising the government on eight different possibilities for relaxing lockdown measures in the Netherlands. By making use of the novel method Participatory Value Evaluation (PVE), participants were asked to recommend which out of the eight options they prefer to be relaxed. Participants received information regarding the societal impacts of each relaxation option, such as the impact of the option on the healthcare system. The results of the PVE informed policymakers about people’s preferences regarding (the impacts of) the relaxation options. For instance, we established that participants assign an equal value to a reduction of 100 deaths among citizens younger than 70 years and a reduction of 168 deaths among citizens older than 70 years. We show how these preferences can be used to rank options in terms of desirability. Citizens advised to relax lockdown measures, but not to the point at which the healthcare system becomes heavily overloaded. We found wide support for prioritising the re-opening of contact professions. Conversely, participants disfavoured options to relax restrictions for specific groups of citizens as they found it important that decisions lead to “unity” and not to “division”. 80% of the participants state that PVE is a good method to let citizens participate in government decision-making on relaxing lockdown measures. Participants felt that they could express a nuanced opinion, communicate arguments, and appreciated the opportunity to evaluate relaxation options in comparison to each other while being informed about the consequences of each option. This increased their awareness of the dilemmas the government faces.

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          A New Approach to Consumer Theory

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            Polarization and Public Health: Partisan Differences in Social Distancing during the Coronavirus Pandemic ☆

            We study partisan differences in Americans’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Political leaders and media outlets on the right and left have sent divergent messages about the severity of the crisis, which could impact the extent to which Republicans and Democrats engage in social distancing and other efforts to reduce disease transmission. We develop a simple model of a pandemic response with heterogeneous agents that clarifies the causes and consequences of heterogeneous responses. We use location data from a large sample of smartphones to show that areas with more Republicans engaged in less social distancing, controlling for other factors including public policies, population density, and local COVID cases and deaths. We then present new survey evidence of significant gaps at the individual level between Republicans and Democrats in self-reported social distancing, beliefs about personal COVID risk, and beliefs about the future severity of the pandemic.
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              Citizen Participation and Environmental Risk: A Survey of Institutional Mechanisms

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Funding acquisitionRole: InvestigationRole: MethodologyRole: Project administrationRole: SupervisionRole: Writing – original draftRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Data curationRole: Formal analysisRole: MethodologyRole: SoftwareRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: InvestigationRole: Writing – original draftRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS One
                PLoS One
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                1932-6203
                6 May 2021
                2021
                6 May 2021
                : 16
                : 5
                : e0250614
                Affiliations
                [1 ] Engineering Systems and Services Department, Policy and Management, Faculty of Technology, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands
                [2 ] Multi-Actor Systems Department, Policy and Management, Faculty of Technology, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands
                University of York, UNITED KINGDOM
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: No competing Interests at the time when the study was conducted. At the time of submitting the paper a startup is being created based on the method used in the study (Participatory Value Evaluation). The first author will be the scientific director of this startup. The startup Populytics was founded at the time that this paper was published. This does not alter our adherence to PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.

                Author information
                https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0299-5852
                https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0490-4042
                https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5166-2026
                Article
                PONE-D-20-34601
                10.1371/journal.pone.0250614
                8101923
                33956831
                1fbc442b-535f-4b18-a78d-5fcb7c6698aa
                © 2021 Mouter et al

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                History
                : 3 November 2020
                : 10 April 2021
                Page count
                Figures: 4, Tables: 13, Pages: 42
                Funding
                Funded by: funder-id http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100003246, Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek;
                Award ID: 313-99-333
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: funder-id http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100001831, Technische Universiteit Delft;
                Award Recipient :
                The TU Delft Covid-19 Response fund sponsored our data collection effort. Niek Mouter acknowledges funding from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO Responsible Innovation grant – 313-99-333) The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Categories
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                People and Places
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                Medicine and Health Sciences
                Medical Conditions
                Infectious Diseases
                Viral Diseases
                Covid 19
                Social Sciences
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                Custom metadata
                http://doi.org/10.4121/14413958 DOI: 10.4121/14413958.
                COVID-19

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