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Do Elections Accelerate the COVID-19 Pandemic? Evidence from a Natural Experiment

Author

Listed:
  • Ján Palguta
  • Levínský, René
  • Škoda, Samuel

Abstract

Elections define representative democracies, but also produce spikes in physical mobility if voters need to travel to electoral rooms. In this paper, we examine whether large-scale, in-person elections propagate the spread of COVID-19. We exploit a natural experiment from the Czech Republic which biannually renews mandates in 1/3 of Senate constituencies rotating according to the 1995 election law. We show that in the second and third weeks after the 2020 elections (held on October 9-10), new COVID-19 infections grow significantly faster in voting compared to non-voting constituencies. A temporarily-related peak in hospital admissions and essentially no changes in test positivity rates suggest that the acceleration is not merely due to increased testing. The acceleration is absent in population above 65, consistently with strategic risk-avoidance by older voters. Our results have implications for postal voting reforms or postponing of large-scale, in-person (electoral) events during viral outbreaks.

Suggested Citation

  • Ján Palguta & Levínský, René & Škoda, Samuel, 2021. "Do Elections Accelerate the COVID-19 Pandemic? Evidence from a Natural Experiment," GLO Discussion Paper Series 891, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:891
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    File URL: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/235583/1/GLO-DP-0891.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Mello, Marco & Moscelli, Giuseppe, 2022. "Voting, contagion and the trade-off between public health and political rights: Quasi-experimental evidence from the Italian 2020 polls," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 200(C), pages 1025-1052.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    election; COVID-19; natural experiment; event study;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H0 - Public Economics - - General
    • H12 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Crisis Management
    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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