Why have the countries with the strictest coronavirus measures had the worst outcomes?

By Kent R. Kroeger (September 20, 2020)

Russian woman in a medical mask during the coronavirus epidemic (Photo by https://www.vperemen.com; used under CC BY-SA 4.0 license)

The Stringency Index

Ourworldindata.org provides a lovely time-series data resource on the coronavirus S&M policies that have be pursued by countries since the pandemic’s start. For this analysis, I selected the Government Stringency Index, compiled by Oxford University’s OxCGRT Project (Thomas Hale, Sam Webster, Anna Petherick, Toby Phillips, and Beatriz Kira, Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker, Blavatnik School of Government)

S&M Policies & Changes in COVID-19 Cases

The Appendix (below) contains cross-correlation function (CCF) plots for time lags in the Stringency Index and weekly changes in COVID-19 cases per capita for all 29 countries. However, for this essay I will highlight those countries most illustrative of this common relationship in the data: There is a contemporaneous, positive correlation between the strictness of government S&M policies and changes in COVID-19 cases.

Final Thoughts

With the recent death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the political tussle over President Trump’s SCOTUS nominee and resulting confirmation process, few realize another political tsunami may hit on October 2nd — the day the U.S. Commerce Department releases the 2020 Q2 GDP numbers at the state-level.


I am a survey and statistical consultant with over 30 -years experience measuring and analyzing public opinion (You can contact me at: kroeger98@yahoo.com)

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