Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation,
Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies

No 487: The Geography of COVID-19 in Sweden

Richard Florida () and Charlotta Mellander ()
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Richard Florida: University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and School of Cities
Charlotta Mellander: Jönköping International Business School & Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies (CESIS)

Abstract: This paper examines the geographic factors that are associated with the spread of COVID-19 in Sweden. The country is a useful case study to examine because it did not impose mandatory lockdowns, and thus we would expect the virus to spread in a more unimpeded way across communities. A growing body of research has examined the role of factors like density, household size, air connectivity, income, race and ethnicity, age, political affiliation, temperature and climate, and policy measure like lockdowns and physical distancing among others. The research examines the effects of some of these factors on the geographic variation of COVID-19 cases and on deaths, across both municipalities and neighborhoods. Our findings show that the geographic variation in COVID-19 is significantly but modestly associated with variables like density, population size, and the socio-economic characteristics of places, and somewhat more associated with variables for household size. What matters more is the presence of high-risk nursing homes and the onset of infections with places that were hit earlier by COVID-19 cases experiencing more severe outbreaks. Still, all these variables explain little of the geographic variation in COVID-19 across Sweden. There appears to be a high degree of randomness in the geographic variation of COVID-19 across Sweden and the degree to which some places were hit harder than others.

Keywords: COVID-19; Sweden; geography; density; connectivity

JEL-codes: I10; J19; R23

32 pages, October 13, 2020

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