Democracy, State Capacity, and COVID-19 Related School Closures

Democracy, State Capacity, and COVID-19 Related School Closures

by Axel Cronert, Uppsala University, Department of Government, Uppsala University

This paper provides a preliminary analysis of the institutional determinants of the timing of COVID-19 related school closures, focusing on the role of democracy and administrative state capacity.

To this end, the paper reports a set of survival analyses of school closures around the world in February and March of 2020. Relying foremost on an analysis of the number of days to school closure after the day of the 10th confirmed case of COVID-19 in 134 countries, the paper finds that other things being equal, democratic countries tended to implement school closures more quickly than those with a more authoritarian regime, while countries with higher government effectiveness tended to take longer than those with less effective state apparatuses. Similar, yet—with respect to democracy—less substantial results are retrieved in a supplementary analysis of 158 countries, where the starting point is instead the day of China’s first COVID-19 related school closure.

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