American Inequality During COVID-19: Examining Disparities and Government Attitudes Using Survey Research


My research analyzes how people in different economic groups perceive pandemic challenges and whether these perceptions shape attitudes about government that are relevant for fighting COVID-19. I conducted a survey of 1050 Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) workers living in the United States during January and February of 2021. I measured individual-level perceptions of stress levels during COVID-19, support for government intervention to reduce economic inequality, and compliance with pandemic safety measures. The survey also included an experiment, which used fictitious but realistic news stories that varied in the degree to which they emphasized the issue of growing inequality as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic (strong emphasis versus no emphasis) and which groups were affected by inequality (wealthy benefiting versus poor hurting). My case study explores the methodological successes and challenges associated with MTurk survey research and provides advice for future research. It explores how to create an effective questionnaire, tips for developing a survey experiment, the essentials of experimental design, and why attention checks are important in public opinion research.

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