Pandemic Police States

12 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2020 Last revised: 30 Jul 2020

See all articles by Christopher J. Coyne

Christopher J. Coyne

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Yuliya Yatsyshina


Date Written: May 11, 2020


The COVID-19 outbreak prompted governments around the world to employ a range of emergency methods to combat the pandemic. In many countries these emergency measures relied heavily on police powers, which refer to the capacity of governments to forcefully regulate behavior and impose order as defined by those in control of the state apparatus. Throughout the world police powers have been used to limit free association through government-imposed stay-at-home orders, impose social distancing rules, close non-essential businesses, and impose lockdowns. State orders have been enforced through various forms of direct monitoring, indirect surveillance, and, in some instances, violence. We discuss the theoretical foundations of the troubling aspects of pandemic police states. We then catalog some pandemic police state activities associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. We conclude with the implications for peace studies.

Keywords: coronavirus disease 2019, Coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic, police state, surveillance

JEL Classification: D73, H11, H12

Suggested Citation

Coyne, Christopher J. and Yatsyshina, Yuliya, Pandemic Police States (May 11, 2020). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 20-25, Available at SSRN: or

Christopher J. Coyne (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States


Yuliya Yatsyshina


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