Professor Kelly McMann and Daniel Tisch recently published “Democratic Regimes and Epidemic Deaths.” V-Dem Working Paper 126. University of Gothenburg: Varieties of Democracy Institute.
Kelly M. McMann is Professor of Political Science at CWRU.
Daniel Tisch is Associate Professor, Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences, School of Medicine and Director, Master of Public Health Program, at CWRU.
The research was funded by a CWRU College of Arts and Sciences Expanding Horizons Initiative Grant.
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The publication is available here.
Abstract: To what extent do particular regime types provide tangible benefits? During this era of declining faith in democracy globally and assertive alternatives to democracy, identifying democracy’s tangible benefits is particularly important. This paper reveals a benefit of democracy, relative to other regime types, in one issue area—epidemics. The paper demonstrates that democracy, compared to other regime types, lowers epidemic deaths in countries by approximately 70 percent, ceteris paribus. This result is driven by particular democratic components—free and fair elections and legislative and executive constraints on the executive—and by democracy at both the national and local levels. These findings support our argument that democracies’ relative success in reducing epidemics deaths is due to the incentives for and constraints on executives at different levels of government to act rapidly in pursuit of the public good. Our novel methodological approaches of investigating democracy’s components and different levels of government allows us to begin to develop a theoretical framework of regime types’ effects in different issue areas. These approaches generate more useful advice to policymakers and practitioners: they need guidance about which democratic institutions and practices and which levels of government to invest in for the greatest benefits.