IZA Discussion Paper No. 13310

Social Capital and the Spread of COVID-19: Insights from European Countries

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. Exploiting within-country variation, we show that a one standard deviation increase in social capital leads to 12% and 32% fewer Covid-19 cases per capita accumulated 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.

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