We explore the role of social capital in the spread of the recent Covid-19 pan­demic in independent analyses for Austria, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Swe­den, Switzerland and the UK. We exploit within-country variation in social capital and Covid-19 cases to show that high-social-capital areas accumulated between 12% and 32% fewer Covid-19 cases per capita from mid-March until mid-May. Using Italy as a case study, we find that high-social-capital areas exhibit lower excess mortality and a decline in mobility. Our results have important implications for the design of local containment policies in future waves of the pandemic.

Bartscher, Alina Kristin, Sebastian Seitz, Michaela Slotwinski, Nils Wehrhöfer and Sebastian Siegloch (2020), Social Capital and the Spread of Covid-19: Insights From European Countries, ZEW Discussion Paper No. 20-023, Mannheim, published in: Journal of Health Economics. Download


Covid-19, social capital, collective action, health costs, Europe