Social and economic factors shaping between-country inequalities in excess mortality during the consecutive waves of COVID-19: A European perspective


  • Katalin Kovács



The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound but disproportionate impact on countries worldwide, with some experiencing tragically high levels of mortality. This raises the question of whether this outcome was the result of simple inappropriate use of the classic and new pandemic management tools or other factors such as health status or political orientation. To shed light on this issue, our study examines the drivers of excess mortality due to COVID-19 across European countries. Applying the technique of elastic net regression, we found that both markers of neoliberal and illiberal political orientations had an impact on pandemic outcomes, although their importance varied during the second and third waves of the pandemic. Furthermore, excess mortality was negatively associated with life expectancy and GDP. The intensity of the usage of pandemic management tools was mostly associated with the macro-level characteristics of the countries, with only a few having independent effects on excess mortality.

Keywords: COVID-19 excess mortality, non-pharmaceutical interventions, vaccination, illiberalism, neoliberalism