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COVID-19 Government Response Event Dataset (CoronaNet v.1.0)

Author: Cindy Cheng, Joan Barceló, Allison Spencer Hartnett, Robert Kubinec, Luca Messerschmidt
Date Published: June 23, 2020

Governments worldwide have implemented countless policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We present an initial public release of a large hand-coded dataset of over 12,000 such policy announcements across more than 190 countries. The dataset is updated daily, with a 5-day lag for validity checking. We document policies across numerous dimensions, including the type of policy; national vs. sub-national enforcement; the specific human group and geographic region targeted by the policy; and the time frame within which each policy is implemented. We further analyze the dataset using a Bayesian measurement model which shows the quick acceleration of the adoption of costly policies across countries beginning in mid-March and continuing to the present. We believe that the data will be instrumental for helping policy makers and researchers assess, among other objectives, how effective different policies are in addressing the spread and health outcomes of COVID-19.

Citation: Cheng, Cindy, Joan Barceló, Allison Hartnett, Robert Kubinec, and Luca Messerschmidt. 2020. COVID-19 Government Response Event Dataset (CoronaNet v1.0). Nature Human Behaviour (2020).

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Fear, Partisanship and the Spread of COVID-19 in the United States

Author: Robert Kubinec, Luiz Carvalho, Joan Barceló, Cindy Cheng, Luca Messerschmidt, Derek Duba, Matthew Cottrell
Date Published: April 1, 2020

In this paper we present a Bayesian latent variable model that accounts for the bias in COVID-19 cases and tests and enables direct inferences about the causes of the pandemic. We use this model to analyze the effects of hypothesized factors relating to the disease's spread both directly and as mediated by cell phone mobility and fear of the disease. By decomposing these channels of transmission, we can better understand how an array of policy and demographic factors, including partisanship, affected the spread of COVID-19. We show that both Trump vote share in 2016 and racial justice protests are associated with the spread of COVID-19 through increased mobility and decreased concern over the virus. However, there is a pronounced direct effect of Trump vote share that cannot be explained by conventional factors and suggests that the power law distribution of early COVID-19 spread led to a surprisingly durable association between liberal states and the disease.

Citation: Kubinec, Robert, Luiz Carvalho, Joan Barceló, Cindy Cheng, Luca Messerschmidt, Derek Duba, and Matthew S. Cottrell. 2020. “Fear, Partisanship and the Spread of COVID-19 in the United States.” SocArXiv. April 1. DOI: doi:10.31235/

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Policy Responses to the Coronavirus in Germany

Author: Tim Buthe, Luca Messerschmidt, Cindy Cheng
Date Published: May 8, 2020

Faced with major crises, policymakers are at risk of various pathologies Even in the absence of such pathologies, governments, when faced with a major crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, have strong incentives to try to go it alone at the national level: Both policy implementation and political accountability still mostly take place at the national level. Federal political systems, such as Germany, face similar challenges at the sub-national level. At the same time, Louis Brandeis’ classic depiction of U.S. states as “laboratories of democracy” reminds us that federalism offers opportunities for trying different policy responses and learning from the differing results, especially when federalism has “experimentalist” characteristics to encourage feedback and learning. We provide a brief overview of the public and political discourse in Germany, as well as the German federal and state-level policy responses, during the first months of the pandemic and an early, tentative assessment of commonalities, divergence, pathologies, and learning – as well as broader implications for conflict and cooperation in Europe and beyond.

Citation: Buthe, Tim and Messerschmidt, Luca and Cheng, Cindy, Policy Responses to the Coronavirus in Germany (May 8, 2020). In The World Before and After COVID-19: Intellectual Reflections on Politics, Diplomacy and International Relations, edited by Gian Luca Gardini. Stockholm – Salamanca: European Institute of International Relations, 2020. Available at SSRN:

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A German Miracle? Crisis Management during the COVID-19 Pandemic in a Multi-Level System

Author: Siewert, Markus B., Stefan Wurster, Luca Messerschmidt, Cindy Cheng & Tim Büthe
Date Published: June 25, 2020

Germany has attracted much attention for its success in coping with the immediate health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping the rate of infection and death from the virus low compared to most other large Western countries, such as the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy, and Spain. In this contribution to the PEX Special Report on the Coronavirus Outbreak, Presidents’ Responses, and Institutional Consequences, we discuss Germany’s “exceptional performance”, beginning with an overview of the policy responses of the German governments at the federal and state (Bundesland) level. We then ask: To what extent did the COVID-19 crisis in Germany shift power to the executive branch? And did the crisis lead to a centralization of decision making and a shift from the state and local level to the national level? We see no evidence of centralization; if anything, state-level autonomy with respect to health policy, business regulation, and education policy became more apparent during the pandemic. Executive branch agencies have dominated the crisis response, but we see little evidence of lasting changes in the distribution of power.

Citation: Siewert, Markus B., Stefan Wurster, Luca Messerschmidt, Cindy Cheng & Tim Büthe. 2020. A German Miracle? Crisis Management During The COVID-19 Pandemic In A Multi-Level System. In Inacio, Magna & Aline Burni (eds.). PEX Special Report: Coronavirus Outbreak, Presidents’ Responses, and Institutional Consequences. 25 June 2020. Available at SSRN:

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Patterns of Policy Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Federal vs. Unitary European Democracies

Author: Tim Buthe, Joan Barceló, Cindy Cheng, Paula Ganga, Luca Messerschmidt, Allison Spencer Hartnett, Robert Kubinec
Date Published: September 7, 2020

Do countries with federal political structures develop more or less effective policies compared to those with unitary political structures? We seek to resolve this long-standing theoretical debate by arguing that the extent to which federalist countries reap the benefits or suffer the costs of giving sub-national units greater autonomy depends on whether a given policy is itself more optimally implemented homogenously or heterogeneously across different regions. Using both statistical and qualitative case study methods, we analyse national and sub-national policy responses to COVID-19 in 2 federal (Germany and Switzerland) and 2 unitary countries (France and Italy). We find that overall, federal countries are more likely to possess heterogeneity in their policy responses than unitary countries. We find mixed evidence as to whether federal or unitary countries' policies are more responsive to the severity of the COVID-19 crisis at the sub-national level.

Citation: Buthe, Tim and Barceló, Joan and Cheng, Cindy and Ganga, Paula and Messerschmidt, Luca and Hartnett, Allison Spencer and Kubinec, Robert, Patterns of Policy Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Federal vs. Unitary European Democracies (September 7, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

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