New Indices Reveal Unique COVID-19 Behavior Among Civilians and Governments

The ongoing study highlights several initial conclusions on government actions and policy-making behavior during COVID-19

Press Release

According to a new COVID-19 study from NYU Abu Dhabi, country-wide social-distancing measures have resulted in a decrease in anxiety among the general population. The research also revealed that female heads of state are more inclined to implement COVID-19 restrictions than their male counterparts. These are among some of the findings researchers have identified so far from their ongoing study, which aims to aid governments’ understanding to ensure enhanced policy development.

Assistant Professors of Political Science at NYU Abu Dhabi Robert Kubinec and Joan Barcelo, as well as a team of 10 other researchers from the University of Oxford, University of Southern California, and other top global academic institutions, found that business restrictions and social distancing measures were strongly associated with reduced general anxiety. The findings were published in an open archive platform called SocArXiv to help encourage academics from around the world to use the database for their own research. 

The study assigns governments scores based on six policy categories including social distancing policies, school-related policies, business-related policies, health monitoring policies, health resources policies, and mask-related policies.

Several conclusions were drawn from this latest update that could aid governments analysis and further develop policies while helping academics better understand human behavior during the pandemic. 

For instance, researchers discovered  that school restrictions were associated with higher rates of personal contact with people outside the home, higher levels of income inequality, and bureaucratic corruption.


“Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the research community has focused its efforts towards collecting and analyzing data on government policies aimed at preventing the virus transmission. However, our knowledge in terms of which policies or policy types have been the most effective at countering COVID-19 remains limited mainly due to the scale of the pandemic and the diversity of government responses."

Assistant Professor of Political Science Robert Kubinec

These findings were derived from Coronanet, an online database that allows researchers to combine policy data from two of the most comprehensive COVID-19 policy datasets, the CoronaNet COVID-19 Government Response Event Dataset - gathered by more than 500 researchers and from over 60,000 data entries, and the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker. The data was also correlated to a wide scale survey conducted on Facebook by Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Maryland designed to gauge citizen sentiment and provide a more holistic view on the risk factors.

About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly selective undergraduate curriculum across the disciplines with a world center for advanced research and scholarship. The university enables its students in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and arts to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from over 115 countries and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.