Ukraine’s citizens worry about covid-19. And they still have to worry about the war.

A survey suggests that conflict makes it politically difficult for countries to concentrate on the pandemic.

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May 22, 2020

In the covid-19 fight, at what point do people think the cure is worse than the disease?

Our new survey evidence from Ukraine shows that for countries in conflict, economic fears aren’t the only issue. National security threats may pose significant barriers to slowing down the virus.

All countries face short-term trade-offs between fighting the virus and keeping the economy going. We wanted to uncover people’s priorities in a country that also faced an immediate security threat, as do many of the world’s countries.

Ukraine fits this bill. Not only are economic choices hard there — we document that 58 percent of all citizens found it difficult to afford clothing as of April 2020 — but Ukraine’s ongoing war with Russia-backed insurgents in the Donbas has claimed over 14,000 lives since 2014.

To learn how Ukrainians prioritize these concerns against battling the pandemic, we partnered with the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) as part of our international and multi-university project on Identity and Borders in Flux: The Case of Ukraine. KIIS included a series of our questions in their April 22-24 telephone “omnibus” tracking survey of a nationally representative sample of 2,024 adult residents of Ukraine.

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