In the United States, the federal government's slow response to the COVID-19 pandemic and localized instances of outbreaks devolved initial policy responses to state and local governments. But not all local governments reacted in equal measure. Was a delayed response in cities due simply to timing of infections, or did politics and political institutions play a role? We use crowd-sourced data to assess local governments' policy responses to the pandemic amidst escalating cases and a scattershot approach to policymaking. Combining a unique dataset of the presence of local shelter-in-place, business closure, and gathering size policies with data on local COVID cases, ideology, partisanship, and institutional capacity, we find that evidence that federalism, demand, and ideology influence local governments' COVID-19 policy responses.
Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy, Volume 1, Issue 4 Special issue - The Political Economy of Pandemics, Part I
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