Brexit & COVID-19 Death Rates

31 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2021 Last revised: 24 Nov 2021

See all articles by Ludovic Phalippou

Ludovic Phalippou

University of Oxford - Said Business School

Betty H.T. Wu

University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School

Date Written: November 1, 2021


We uncover a striking relationship between the 2016 Brexit vote and COVID-19 death, infection, and vaccination rates in England. Districts that voted most heavily in favor of remaining in the European Union (top quintile) have a one-third lower death rate, a quarter lower infection rate, and a higher vaccination rate than Districts with the fewest Remainers (bottom quintile). The effect is stronger after the first wave once protective measures are known and available. Our results suggest a need for designing incentive schemes to take into consideration and account for different cultures and belief systems. Scientific prowess – such as finding effective vaccines – may not be sufficient to solve the crises.

Funding: This research has not received any external financing.

Declaration of Interests: Authors have no potential conflicts of interests to declare.

Keywords: Brexit vote, COVID-19, Polarization

Suggested Citation

Phalippou, Ludovic and Wu, Betty H.T., Brexit & COVID-19 Death Rates (November 1, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Ludovic Phalippou (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Said Business School ( email )

Park End Street
Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain

Betty H.T. Wu

University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School ( email )

Glasgow, Scotland
United Kingdom

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