Saturday, October 24, 2020
Tim Buthe (TUM), Joan Barceló (Washington University), Cindy Cheng (TUM), Paula Ganga (Columbia University), Luca Messerschmidt (TUM), Allison Spencer Hartnett (University of Oxford), Robert Kubinec (University of Virginia), Patterns of Policy Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Federal vs. Unitary European Democracies, SSRN:
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.