People

Jonah Rexer

PhD Student | Business Economics & Public Policy

Jonah Rexer is a PhD Candidate in the Business Economics and Public Policy department at Wharton. He studies organized crime, conflict, corruption, and multinational investment in resource-rich developing economies.

He has previously worked as a consultant for the Ministry of Finance and the World Bank in Myanmar, and as a researcher for BRAC in Uganda. He has an MPA/ID from the Harvard Kennedy School and a BA in International Relations from Stanford University.

Selected Publications

Guy GrossmanSoojong KimJonah RexerHarsha Thirumurthy

(April 2020). Political Partisanship Influences Behavioral Responses to Governors’ Recommendations for COVID-19 Prevention in the United States. Social Science Research Network, 253, 112957.

Voluntary physical distancing is essential for preventing the spread of COVID-19. Political partisanship may influence individuals’ responsiveness to recommendations from political leaders.

Daily mobility during March 2020 was measured using location information from a sample of mobile phones in 3,100 US counties across 49 states. Governors’ Twitter communications were used to determine the timing of messaging about COVID-19 prevention.

Regression analyses examined how political preferences influenced the association between governors’ COVID-19 communications and residents’ mobility patterns. Governors’ recommendations for residents to stay at home preceded stay-at-home orders and led to a significant reduction in mobility that was comparable to the effect of the orders themselves.

Effects were larger in Democratic than Republican-leaning counties, a pattern more pronounced under Republican governors. Democratic-leaning counties also responded more to recommendations from Republican than Democratic governors.

Political partisanship influences citizens’ decisions to voluntarily engage in physical distancing in response to communications by their governor.

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