• Last updated: Mon, Jan 29, 2024Status: Ongoing
  • Olof Östergren, and Bartholomew Konechni

Civic Capital, Crisis, and Health Behaviours during the Covid-19 Pandemic in Sweden

In the recent pandemic, international evidence has found that higher levels of civic capital, the values, institutions, and practices that are conducive to cooperation within a community, were associated with reduced spatial mobility and a greater uptake in preventative behaviours such as wearing a mask as well as lower excess mortality. However, the previous literature exploring civic capital’s role during the pandemic has overwhelmingly done so in countries which adopted stringently enforced non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs). Relative to other countries, Sweden is characterised by trust in public institutions and during the pandemic, the government response heavily relied on individual responsibility.

This project aims to first establish an index of civic capital at the local level using electoral turnout, engagement in study associations and participation in local sports activities. We will use the index to assess if civic capital was related to compliance with public health recommendations and uptake of health-seeking behaviours in Sweden across the course of the COVID-19 crisis. We will use several indicators of compliance; changes in mobility patterns, consumption, testing rates and vaccine uptake.

The project can contribute to the scientific literature in several ways. First, by providing evidence on the role of civic capital in Sweden, a country characterised by trust in public institutions and where the NPI’s were less stringent and government agencies relied on measures taken by individuals. Second, by incorporating several indicators of compliance over several phases of the pandemic and third, by introducing robust individual-level controls for individual-level socioeconomic position, living arrangements and working conditions.

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