Background: The Japanese government has restricted people’s going-out behavior by declaring the non-punitive state of emergency for several times under COVID-19. This study aims to analyze how multiple policy interventions that impose non-legally binding restrictions on behavior affect people’s going-out.
Theory: This study models the stigma model of self-restraint behavior under the pandemic with habituation effects. The theoretical result indicates that the state of emergency’s self-restraint effects weaken with the number of times.
Methods: The empirical analysis examines the impact of emergency declarations on going-out behavior using a prefecture-level daily panel dataset that includes Google’s going-out behavior data, the Japanese government’s policy interventions based on emergency declarations, and covariates that affect going-out behavior such as precipitation and holidays.
Results: First, for multiple emergency declarations from the beginning of the pandemic to 2021, the effect of refraining from going-out was confirmed under emergency declarations in a model that did not distinguish the number of emergency declarations. Second, in the model that considers the number of emergency declarations, the effect of voluntary restraint on going-out was found to decrease with the number of declarations.
Conclusion: These empirical analyses are consistent with the results of theoretical analyses, which show that people become more habituated to a policy intervention as the number of the interventions increases.