Falling Flat? The Impact of State Legitimacy, Capacity, and Political Trust on Flattening the Curve of COVID-19
20 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2020 Publication Status: Under Review
As countries across the world struggle to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, pundits often remark that countries with higher levels of regime legitimacy, state capacity, and political trust are more likely to curtail the spread of the virus. This article offers a first-cut glance analyzing whether these countries are indeed, more successful at containing the virus. By combining data from 10 different sources, I find that countries with higher levels of legitimacy and trust actually experienced greater increases in COVID-19 cases, albeit the strength of this relationship is moderate. State capacity had a stronger positive relationship with increases in COVID-19 cases, but GDP per capita largely drives this relationship. In sum, these results counter expectations regarding the role of certain political indicators on virus containment. Future research should refrain from the “blame game” in terms of politics and should instead look at unique factors characterizing industrialized democracies that make a virus much harder to contain.
Keywords: COVID-19, pandemic, political attitudes, political trust, legitimacy, state capacity
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