Data suggest that wealthier countries tend to be more vaccine skeptical than economically poorer countries. One possible explanation – the Online Accessibility hypothesis – posits that internet access facilitates the spread of the antivaccine misinformation that can fuel skepticism, particularly for those lower in scientific and medical expert trust. Another explanation – the Out of Sight hypothesis – is that some citizens in economically richer countries fail to consider the risks of vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs) because they are rarely experienced directly. Using nationally representative data from 144 countries, we test these two potential explanations.

To test these hypotheses, the researchers use multilevel modeling (MLM) to model individual survey respondents’ attitudes toward vaccines as a function of both respondent-level characteristics (e.g., attitudes toward scientific and government institutions) and contextual, country-level factors (e.g., development, internet access, and the prevalence of communicable disease in that country). They then examine the interaction between these two sets of predictors. Data for the study come from a 2018 Wellcome Global Monitor (WGM) survey, in which Gallup, on behalf of WGM, surveyed 149,014 individuals across 144 countries (reflecting about 99% of the planet’s population)…readmore