DP14866 Social capital and the spread of Covid-19: Insights from European countries

Author(s): Alina Bartscher, Sebastian Seitz, Sebastian Siegloch, Michaela Slotwinski, Nils Wehrhöfer
Publication Date: June 2020
Keyword(s): collective action, COVID-19, Europe, health costs, social capital
JEL(s): A13, D04, D91, H11, H12, I10, I18
Programme Areas: Labour Economics, Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14866

We explore the role of social capital in the spread of the recent Covid-19 pandemic in independent analyses for Austria, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. Exploiting within-country variation, we show that a one standard deviation increase in social capital leads to 12% and 32% fewer Covid-19 cases per capita accumulated from mid-March until mid-May. Using Italy as a case study, we find that high-social-capital areas exhibit lower excess mortality and a decline in mobility. Our results have important implications for the design of local containment policies in future waves of the pandemic.