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Voting, contagion and the trade-off between public health and political rights: quasi-experimental evidence from the Italian 2020 polls

M. Mello and Giuseppe Moscelli ()

Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers from HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York

Abstract: In September 2020, a national-level constitutional referendum held alongside local administrative elections took place in Italy, resulting in a 22% average increase in the referendum turnout rate where more than one poll occurred. We exploit this quasi-experimental setting to estimate the e ect of voters' turnout on the spread of COVID-19, by employing an event-study design with a two-stage Control Function strategy. The estimated elasticities show that post-poll new COVID infections increased by an average of 1.1% for each additional percentage point of turnout. The findings suggest that national-level polls have the possibility to amplify nation-wide waves of contagion if held during peak periods of an epidemic. A cost-benefit simulation based on our estimates and real political events shows that averting an early general election in Spring 2021 has spared Italy up to about 362 million euros in additional hospital care costs and 22,900 deaths from COVID.

Keywords: COVID-19; voting; civic capital; Control Function (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C23 D72 H51 I18 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021-09
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm, nep-eur, nep-isf and nep-pol
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Working Paper: Voting, Contagion and the Trade-Off between Public Health and Political Rights: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from the Italian 2020 Polls (2021) Downloads
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