Patterns of Policy Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Federal vs. Unitary European Democracies

67 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2020

See all articles by Tim Buthe

Tim Buthe

Technische Universität München (TUM) - School of Governance - Hochschule für Politik

Joan Barceló

Washington University in Saint Louis, College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Political Science

Cindy Cheng

Technical University of Munich (TUM) - School of Governance - Hochschule für Politik

Paula Ganga

Columbia University

Luca Messerschmidt

Technische Universität München (TUM), School of Governance - Hochschule für Politik

Allison Spencer Hartnett

University of Oxford - Department of Politics and International Relations; Yale University - Department of Political Science

Robert Kubinec

University of Virginia

Date Written: September 7, 2020

Abstract

Do countries with federal political structures develop more or less effective policies compared to those with unitary political structures? We seek to resolve this long-standing theoretical debate by arguing that the extent to which federalist countries reap the benefits or suffer the costs of giving sub-national units greater autonomy depends on whether a given policy is itself more optimally implemented homogenously or heterogeneously across different regions. Using both statistical and qualitative case study methods, we analyse national and sub-national policy responses to COVID-19 in 2 federal (Germany and Switzerland) and 2 unitary countries (France and Italy). We find that overall, federal countries are more likely to possess heterogeneity in their policy responses than unitary countries. We find mixed evidence as to whether federal or unitary countries' policies are more responsive to the severity of the COVID-19 crisis at the sub-national level.

Keywords: federalism, health policy, COVID-19, policymaking

JEL Classification: H77, I28

Suggested Citation

Buthe, Tim and Barceló, Joan and Cheng, Cindy and Ganga, Paula and Messerschmidt, Luca and Hartnett, Allison Spencer and Kubinec, Robert, Patterns of Policy Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Federal vs. Unitary European Democracies (September 7, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3692035 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3692035

Tim Buthe (Contact Author)

Technische Universität München (TUM) - School of Governance - Hochschule für Politik ( email )

Richard-Wagner-Str.1
Munich, 80333
Germany

Joan Barceló

Washington University in Saint Louis, College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Political Science ( email )

One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

Cindy Cheng

Technical University of Munich (TUM) - School of Governance - Hochschule für Politik ( email )

Richard Wagner Str. 1
Munich, Bavaria 80333
Germany

Paula Ganga

Columbia University ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Luca Messerschmidt

Technische Universität München (TUM), School of Governance - Hochschule für Politik ( email )

Germany

Allison Spencer Hartnett

University of Oxford - Department of Politics and International Relations ( email )

Manor Road
Oxford, OX1 3UQ
United Kingdom

Yale University - Department of Political Science

Box 208269
New Haven, CT 06520-8269
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.allisonhartnett.io

Robert Kubinec

University of Virginia

PO Box 400787
Charlottesville, VA 22904
United States

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