Masks, Seatbelts, and Peltzman Effects

by Vincent Geloso
The American Institute for Economic Research

A few days ago, my home province of Quebec (I am a Canadian) passed a regulation that made compulsory the use of face masks in public. The main motivation for the regulation is the prevention of a second wave of the coronavirus. The reaction has been virulent on the part of skeptics who argue that masks are inefficient and that the compulsion by the state is an infringement of personal rights. Defenders of the regulation argue the opposite with regards to the effectiveness of masks and further highlight that this is a reasonable infringement of personal rights especially as it protects others from the risk produced by a single sick individual.

None of the parties involved provide answers about whether the regulation will reduce propagation. More importantly, the arguments being invoked by all sides reveal a depressing pretence of knowledge on the part of everyone involved.

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