The Politics of Covid-19 Mortality
Can theories from political science and related disciplines help explain and predict cross-national patterns in Covid-19 deaths? In a new project, a team from the Institutions and Political Inequality Research Unit and UC Riverside explores how country and government features relate to Covid-19 mortality. They find that over time, measures of institutional and interpersonal trust become powerful predictors of the distribution of Covid-19 deaths. In particular, deaths are fewer in countries where people report higher trust in government, and in countries with higher levels of interpersonal trust.
“Patterns are still in flux!”, says Alexandra Scacco, one of the working paper’s co-authors. Researchers will need to continuously re-analyze available data in order to learn more about what affects mortality, while reflecting on what counts as a Covid-19-induced death in the first place. This is why Scacco is now launching a project that challenges scholars to build statistical models predicting Covid-19 mortality together with Miriam A. Golden of the European University Institute based on the existing data.
With the Covid-19 pandemic evolving rapidly, results continue to change over time. For example, demographic features such as the age of a country’s population have become less important, while measures of state capacity - such as a composite measure of government effectiveness - have become more important over time. The researchers were also struck by how little political institutions and political priorities mattered, relative to factors such as state capacity or trust in government. It seems that while demographic and health predictors were very important at early stages of the pandemic, measures of government effectiveness and institutional trust are becoming more powerful predictors of the distribution of Covid deaths over time.
22 December 2020 / fjb