Since the start of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the relationship between national female leaders and their effectiveness in handling the COVID-crisis has received a lot of media attention. In this paper we scrutinise this association more systematically. We ask if there is a significant and systematic difference by gender of the national leader in the number of COVID-cases and deaths in the first quarter of the pandemic. We also examine differences in policy responses by male vs. female leaders as plausible explanations for the differences in outcomes. Using a constructed dataset for 194 countries, a variety of socio-demographic variables are used to match nearest neighbours. Our findings show that COVID-outcomes are systematically better in countries led by women and, to some extent, this may be explained by the proactive and coordinated policy responses adopted by them. We use insights from behavioural studies and leadership literature to speculate on the sources of these differences, as well as on their implications. Our hope is that this article will serve as a starting point to illuminate the discussion on the influence of national leaders in explaining the differences in country COVID-outcomes.
Garikipati, S and U Kambhampati (2020), ‘Leading the Fight Against the Pandemic: Does Gender 'Really' Matter?‘, COVID Economics 26, CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/covid-economics-issue-26#392514_392902_390499
We estimate the impact of non-pharmacological interventions (NPIs) on COVID-19 deaths in Scandinavia. We exploit policy variation between Denmark and Norway on the one hand and Sweden on the other. The former deployed relatively more stringent lockdowns, the latter did not. Our difference-in-differences models show that stricter lockdown policies are associated with fewer COVID-19 deaths.
Conyon, M, L He and S Thomsen (2020), ‘Lockdowns and COVID-19 Deaths in Scandinavia‘, COVID Economics 26, CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/covid-economics-issue-26#392514_392902_390500
This paper derives a Model-Inferred DIStancing (MIDIS) measure using an extended version of the Susceptible-Exposed-Infected-Recovered-DeceasedÂ (SEIRD) framework. The paper argues that, when a disease has an incubation period, explicitly accounting for the exposed compartment is necessary in this class of epidemiological models. An important advantage of the proposed identification strategy lies in its ease to put into practice by other researchers because it employs a relatively simple model and readily available data. When MIDIS is taken to data, results exhibit cross-country and over-time heterogeneity in social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, MIDIS is highly correlated with the mobility data, and it embeds both governmental and behavioral responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, as an application, the paper uses MIDIS to explain output losses experienced during the pandemic, and there exists a robust positive correlation between the two|with sizable economic effects.
Attar, M and A Tekin-Koru (2020), ‘Distancing during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Identification, Causes and Consequences‘, COVID Economics 26, CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/covid-economics-issue-26#392514_392902_390501
We nowcast the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and related lockdown measures in the UK and then analyse the distributional and budgetary effects of the estimated individual income shocks, distinguishing between the effects of automatic stabilisers and those of the emergency policy responses. Under conservative assumptions about the exit strategy and recovery phase, we predict that the rescue package will increase the cost of the crisis for the public budget by an additional Â£26 billion, totalling over Â£60 billion. However, it will allow to contain the reduction in the average household disposable income to 1 percentage point, and will reduce poverty rate by 1.1 percentage points (at a constant poverty line), with respect to the pre-Covid situation. We also show that this progressive effect is due to the increased generosity of Universal Credit, which accounts for only 20% of the cost of the rescue package.
Bronka, P, D Collado and M Richiardi (2020), ‘The Covid-19 Crisis Response Helps the Poor: The Distributional and Budgetary Consequences of the UK lock-down‘, COVID Economics 26, CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/covid-economics-issue-26#392514_392902_390502
Countries across the world responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with what might well be the set of biggest state-led mobility and activity restrictions in the history of mankind. But how effective were these measures across countries? Compared to multiple recent studies that document an association between such restrictions and the control of the contagion, we use an instrumental variable approach to estimate the causal effect of these restrictions on mobility, and the growth rate of confirmed cases and deaths attributed to COVID-19. Using the level of stringency in the rest of the world to predict the level of stringency of the restriction measures in a country, we show while stricter contemporaneous measures affected mobility, stringency in seven to fourteen days mattered for containing the contagion. Heterogeneity analysis reveal that even though the restrictions reduced mobility more in relatively less-developed countries, the causal effect of a reduction in mobility was higher in more developed countries. We propose several explanations. Our results highlight the need to complement mobility and activity restrictions with other health and information measures, especially in less-developed countries, to combat the COVID-19 pandemic effectively.
Fakir, A (2020), ‘Pandemic Catch-22: How effective are mobility restrictions in halting the spread of COVID-19 in developing countries?‘, COVID Economics 26, CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/covid-economics-issue-26#392514_392902_390503
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. We exploit within country variation in social capital and Covid-19 cases to show that high-social-capital areas accumulated between 12% and 32% fewer Covid-19 cases per capita 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.
Bartscher, A, S Seitz, S Siegloch, M Slotwinski and N Wehrhöfer (2020), ‘Social capital and the spread of Covid-19: Insights from European countries‘, COVID Economics 26, CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/covid-economics-issue-26#392514_392902_391041