A new GLO Discussion Paper finds for China that cities whose top officials had public health or medical backgrounds had significantly lower infection rates than cities whose top officials lacked such backgrounds.
GLO Discussion Paper No. 1002, 2021
Role of Professionalism in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Does a Public Health or Medical Background Help? – Download PDF
by Li, Xun & Lai, Weizheng & Wan, Qianqian & Chen, Xi
GLO Fellow Xi Chen
Author Abstract: In response to the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), there have been substantial variations in policy response and performance for disease control and prevention within and across nations. It remains unclear to what extent these variations may be explained by bureaucrats’ professionalism, as measured by their educational background or work experience in public health or medicine. To investigate the effects of officials’ professionalism on their response to and performance in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, we collect information from the résumés of government and Party officials in 294 Chinese cities, and integrate this information with other data sources, including weather conditions, city characteristics, COVID-19-related policy measures, and health outcomes. We show that, on average, cities whose top officials had public health or medical backgrounds (PHMBG) had significantly lower infection rates than cities whose top officials lacked such backgrounds. We test the mechanisms of these effects and find that cities whose officials had PHMBG implemented community closure more rapidly than those lacked such backgrounds. Our findings highlight the importance of professionalism in combating the pandemic.
GLO Discussion Papers are research and policy papers of the GLO Network which are widely circulated to encourage discussion. Provided in cooperation with EconStor, a service of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, GLO Discussion Papers are among others listed in RePEc (see IDEAS, EconPapers). Complete list of all GLO DPs – downloadable for free.
The Global Labor Organization (GLO) is an independent, non-partisan and non-governmental organization that functions as an international network and virtual platform to stimulate global research, debate and collaboration.