COVID-19 and the state
Exploring a puzzling relationship in the early stages of the pandemic
During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was wealthier countries with stronger institutions that suffered the highest numbers of cases and fatalities. Many weaker countries were instead praised for more effective pandemic response. What explains this seeming puzzle?
We re-consider these relationships in the cross-country data, drawing on measures of the state, COVID's health impact and pandemic response. In brief, our analysis suggests that, when appropriate additional factors are taken into account, the expected relationship between state effectiveness and pandemic health outcomes in fact is clear.
We also offer insight into how different dimensions of the state influence policy and outcomes and how particular countries compare with others.