Trust in government and corona virus deaths

The scatterplot above shows the association between trust in government in EU countries as measured by the Eurobarometer 92 back in November 2019 and the publicly available count of corona deaths per 1M inhabitants as of March 6th, 2021 in those countries (data).

A standard regression (solid line) shows a negative relationship with each percentage point of trust being associated with a decrease of about 15 deaths per 1M inhabitants. (A more robust regression procedure – dotted line – shows even steeper association.) The share of this association is about 15% of the total inter-country variance in corona deaths prevalence in the EU, and about 25% of the variance when the outlying data point of Cyprus is removed.

There are at least two possible mechanisms that could be offered to explain the association. The first is that both trust and corona deaths are affected by government competence. Lower competence is associated with lower trust and with higher pandemic death prevalence. Continue reading