03 December
Trust, Polarization and Excess Mortality for COVID-19 across European regions

Speaker: Victor Lapuente, Professor and Research Fellow at the Department of Political Science of the University of Gothenburg, and Visiting Professor at ESADE Business School, Barcelona.

The seminar description

Why some territories have performed better than others in the fight against COVID-19? Building on previous literature showing that both social trust and institutional trust are protective factors against epidemics, this paper explores how social and political divisions may explain the remarkable regional differences in excess mortality during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. First, we argue that it is not only levels, but also variations in trust among citizens – in particular, between government supporters and non-supporters – what matters for understanding why people in some regions have adopted more pro-healthy behavior. Second, we hypothesize that polarization among political parties is also linked to higher mortality, for it is more difficult for governments to build consensus with opposition parties to undertake unpopular yet necessary measures, and more tempting to take measures aimed at satisfying core constituencies (e.g. business interests) rather than at controlling the pandemic. Using a novel dataset on excess mortality, trust and political polarization for 153 European regions, we find evidence of how social and political divisions are associated to more deaths.

Date: 3 December 2020

Time: 16:00 CET

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