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

28 April 2020, Version 4
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


This study investigates the institutional determinants of the timing of COVID-19 related school closures around the world, focusing on the role of democracy and administrative state capacity. Relying foremost on Cox proportional hazards models of up to 167 countries observed daily between late January and early April of 2020, the study finds that other things being equal, democratic countries tended to implement school closures quicker than those with a more authoritarian regime, while countries with high government effectiveness tended to take longer than those with less effective state apparatuses. A supplementary analysis that distinguishes between the two democratic dimensions of competition and participation indicates that it is the existence of competitive elections that prompts democratic leaders to respond more rapidly. Lastly, auxiliary evidence indicates that demography and family systems may also help determine countries' pandemic responses.


coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
administrative state capacity
school closure
survival analysis
Cox models


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Comment number 1, Gregg Murray: Jul 23, 2022, 20:03

Readers may also be interested in: "Identifying factors related to school closures due to COVID-19 in the Middle East and North Africa region" with free access at (Carr et al., 2022; International Journal of Educational Development).