Wishing you had a crystal ball to see what life will look like in six months if the COVID-19 pandemic subsides? What if it doesn’t? (Absolutely no shame if you already threw out your 2020 planner.)
We cooked up a survey experiment asking respondents how frequently they plan to engage in a host of once-normal activities six months from now compared to pre-pandemic levels — but half were told to imagine the pandemic will be under control and half were told to imagine it’s not.
What’s at stake in finding a vaccine? Concerts, live sporting events, flying, using public transportation, professional conferences, playing sports, and eating out are all less likely to occur for more than half of Americans if the pandemic is not under control.
But even if the pandemic is under control the likelihood of engaging in these high-people-to-space-ratio activities doesn’t dramatically change. Nearly half of Americans won’t attend concerts, fly in an airplane, or attend live sports assuming the public health risk subsides. Yet face coverings are here to stay. 51% of Americans plan to be wearing them in six months even in the best of circumstances.
The activity most likely to constitute a new normal even if the contagion rates decline is … saving for the next emergency. Looks like we all learned our lesson.