Examining the Effects of Social and Economic Freedoms on the COVID-19 Pandemic
Author(s): Alexander Noviello, Sameer Menghani, Maksym Bondarenko, Bhushan Mohanraj, Oliver Solensky, Ian Lee, Jordyn Vermut, Deyaan Guha, Shaan Choudhri, William Sabat, Andrew Noviello
Aim: The goal of this study was to examine how social and economic freedoms, as well as related variables, impacted the COVID-19 pandemic, including governmental pandemic response and cases, deaths, and tests throughout 2020.
Materials and Methods: To explore the effects of social and economic freedoms, gross domestic product (GDP), and other parameters on the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple datasets, including the Economic Freedom Index and the Human Freedom Index were used, along with COVID-19 data, to examine both direct and indirect relationships. The K-Means clustering algorithm was used for many analyses.
Results: High economic and social freedoms were associated with increased numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths throughout 2020. Countries within the highest category of economic freedoms reported their first COVID-19 case 44 days before and their first virus death 91 days before low-economic-freedom nations, on average. Countries with the highest overall freedoms exhibited average COVID-19-stringency scores of 4.4, 12.85, and 4.49 points less than countries in the lowest freedom categories for the Spring, Summer, and Fall of 2020, respectively, representing less strict pandemic responses. Freedoms were also shown to correlate with other pandemic-influencing factors, including GDP, political systems, and population density.
Conclusion: High economic and social freedoms were associated with increased numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths throughout 2020. Future analyses should address whether the enjoyment of freedoms can be balanced with the preservation of safety to improve responses to future pandemics.