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COVID-19 and erosion of democracy


  • Lewkowicz, Jacek
  • Woźniak, Michał
  • Wrzesiński, Michał


The main research question of this study is about the drivers of democracy backsliding during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a special focus on the rule of law and the state of democracy just before the shock. There is growing interest in the political implications of the coronavirus pandemic, debating mostly the misuse of emergencies and violations of various norms by governments; however the links between the current democracy erosion with institutional environment remain unclear. We use a novel global dataset covering the period of the first two waves of the pandemic (January–December 2020), and apply various econometric and machine learning tools to identify institutional, economic and social factors influencing democracy. Our results are of scientific and practical importance and imply that the stronger the rule of law and the higher the level of democracy, the lower the risk of democracy backsliding in the face of the pandemic.

Suggested Citation

  • Lewkowicz, Jacek & Woźniak, Michał & Wrzesiński, Michał, 2022. "COVID-19 and erosion of democracy," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 106(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecmode:v:106:y:2022:i:c:s0264999321002716
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econmod.2021.105682

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Blayac, Thierry & Dubois, Dimitri & Duchêne, Sébastien & Nguyen-Van, Phu & Ventelou, Bruno & Willinger, Marc, 2022. "What drives the acceptability of restrictive health policies: An experimental assessment of individual preferences for anti-COVID 19 strategies," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 116(C).
    2. Croissant, Aurel & Kühn, David & Macias-Weller, Ariam & Pion-Berlin, David, 2023. "Militarisation of COVID-19 responses and autocratisation: A comparative study of eight countries in Asia-Pacific and Latin America," GIGA Working Papers 334, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
    3. Bandyopadhyay, Simanti & Kabiraj, Sujana & Majumder, Subrata, 2023. "Subnational governments and COVID management," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 124(C).
    4. Alba Taboada-Villamarín & Cristóbal Torres-Albero, 2024. "Digital Communication Studies during the Pandemic: A Sociological Review Using Topic Modeling Strategy," Social Sciences, MDPI, vol. 13(2), pages 1-18, January.
    5. Nguenda Anya, Saturnin Bertrand & Nzepang, Fabrice, 2022. "The role of the separation of democratic powers on structural transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 46(4).

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    More about this item


    Democracy backsliding; Rule of law; Pandemic; COVID-19; Political economy; Law & economics; Institutional economics;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General
    • P16 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Capitalist Economies - - - Capitalist Institutions; Welfare State
    • P48 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies


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