Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy > Vol 1 > Issue 4

Institutional Origins of Protective COVID-19 Public Health Policy Responses: Informational and Authority Redundancies and Policy Stringency

Olga Shvetsova, Binghamton University, USA, , Andrei Zhirnov, Q-Step Centre and University of Exeter, UK, , Julie VanDusky-Allen, Boise State University, USA, , Abdul Basit Adeel, Binghamton University, USA, , Michael Catalano, Binghamton University, USA, , Olivia Catalano, USA, , Frank Giannelli, The State University of New Jersey, USA, , Ezgi Muftuoglu, Binghamton University, USA, , Tara Riggs, Binghamton University, USA, , Mehmet Halit Sezgin, Binghamton University, USA, , Naveed Tahir, Syracuse University, USA, , Tianyi Zhao, Binghamton University, USA,
Suggested Citation
Olga Shvetsova, Andrei Zhirnov, Julie VanDusky-Allen, Abdul Basit Adeel, Michael Catalano, Olivia Catalano, Frank Giannelli, Ezgi Muftuoglu, Tara Riggs, Mehmet Halit Sezgin, Naveed Tahir and Tianyi Zhao (2020), "Institutional Origins of Protective COVID-19 Public Health Policy Responses: Informational and Authority Redundancies and Policy Stringency", Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy: Vol. 1: No. 4, pp 585-613.

Publication Date: 18 Nov 2020
© 2020 O. Shvetsova et al.
Information systems and individuals,  Information systems management,  Organizational behavior,  Health care,  Autocracy,  Democracy,  Federalism,  Political economy,  Public policy,  Complexity,  Uncertainty
COVID-19public health policydemocracyfederalismsystem redundancies


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In this article:
Baseline Capacity of Institutional Systems to Respond Quickly to the Unknown 
Information Multiplexing and Functional Redundancy 
Institutional Determinants of Information and Policy Redundancies 
The Global Data Set 
Appendix: Proof of Proposition 1 and Corollary 1 


In this essay, we argue that institutional systems that allow redundancies in information channels and in policy-making are more likely to generate a rapid policy response to crises such as the onset of COVID-19 pandemic than more streamlined systems. Since democracies and decentralized polities feature higher informational and authority redundancies, we theorize improved crisis response in democracies, and in more decentralized democracies.

To assess our theoretical expectations, we construct an original data set of stringency of policy measures that were adopted in response to COVID-19 by governments at different levels in 64~countries between January and May 2020. We find that democracies and liberal democracies responded to COVID-19 stronger and faster. Federalism and decentralization in addition to democratic institutions played a less uniform, but still a positive role. Beyond their other acknowledged merits, democratic institutions have superior capacity to mount a quick policy response to unqualified threats.



Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy, Volume 1, Issue 4 Special issue - The Political Economy of Pandemics, Part I
See the other articles that are part of this special issue.