The political scar of epidemics

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Title: The political scar of epidemics
Author: Aksoy, Cevat Giray ; Eichengreen, Barry ; Saka, Orkun
Organization: Bank of Finland
Department / Unit: Institute for Economies in Transition (BOFIT)
Series: BOFIT Discussion Papers
Series number: 14/2020
Year of publication: 2020
Publication date: 27.6.2020
Pages: 68
Subject (yso): pandemiat; demokratia; politiikka; luottamus; poliittiset instituutiot; poliittiset johtajat; epidemiat; vaikutukset; nuoret; terveydenhuolto
Keywords: Bofit-kokoelma; COVID-19; koronakriisi; z-sukupolvi
JEL: D72; F50; I19
Other keywords: epidemics; trust; democracy; political approval
Abstract: What will be political legacy of the Coronavirus pandemic? We find that epidemic exposure in an individual’s “impressionable years” (ages 18 to 25) has a persistent negative effect on confidence in political institutions and leaders. We find similar negative effects on confidence in public health systems, suggesting that the loss of confidence in political leadership and institutions is associated with healthcare-related policies at the time of the epidemic. In line with this argument, our results are mostly driven by individuals who experienced epidemics under weak governments with less capacity to act against the epidemic, disappointing their citizens. We provide evidence of this mechanism by showing that weak governments took longer to introduce policy interventions in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. These results imply that the Coronavirus may leave behind a long-lasting political scar on the current young generation (“Generation Z”).
Table of contents: Abstract .. 4 1 Introduction .. 5 2 Literature .. 8 3 Data .. 10 4 Identification .. 12 5 Model .. 14 6 Results .. 15 7 Robustness .. 18 8 Evidence on mechanisms .. 23 9 Conclusion .. 27 References .. 29 Figures and tables .. 32 Appendices .. 49 A Additional data and sources .. 49 B Additional evidence and analysis .. 52

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