Free DP Download 19 November 2020 - INSTITUTIONS AND THE UNEVEN GEOGRAPHY OF THE FIRST WAVE OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Thursday, November 19, 2020

INSTITUTIONS AND THE UNEVEN GEOGRAPHY OF THE FIRST WAVE OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Chiara Burlina, Andrés Rodríguez-Pose  
CEPR DP No. 15443 November 2020

Why was the spread of Covid-19 uneven across regions and in mortality rates throughout Europe? A new CEPR study by Chiara Burlina and Andrés Rodríguez-Pose examines the uneven geography of Covid-19-related excess mortality in 206 regions across 23 European countries during the first wave of the pandemic in Europe, and assesses the factors behind the geographical differences in impact. Among the findings:  

  • Excess deaths were concentrated in a limited number of regions -expected deaths exceeded 20% in just 16 regions- with more than 40% of the regions considered experiencing no excess mortality during the first six months of 2020. 
  • Highly connected regions, in colder and dryer climates, with high air pollution levels, and relatively poorly endowed health systems witnessed the highest incidence of excess mortality.
  • Institutional factors also played an important role. The first wave hit regions with a combination of weak and declining formal institutional quality and fragile informal institutions hardest. 
  • Low and declining national government effectiveness, together with a limited capacity to reach out across societal divides, and a frequent tendency to meet with friends and family were powerful drivers of regional excess mortality.

Confronting the challenges of Covid-19 and future health or natural shocks requires effectively tackling institutional bottlenecks.

FIGURE 1: Excess death rates (as a percentage deviation from expected deaths, based on the previous 5 years) by region in the first six months of 2020.


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