Inter-country variations in COVID-19 incidence from a social science perspective

Uzi Rebhun*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


COVID-19 has spread unevenly among countries. Beyond its pathogenicity and its contagious nature, it is of the utmost importance to explore the epidemiological determinants of its health outcomes. I focus on the thirty-six OECD member states and examine country-level characteristics of the timing of the coronavirus outbreak and its morbidity and case-fatality rates. I harvested data on dependent variables from daily WHO reports and information on the independent variables from official publications of major world organizations. I clustered the latter information under three rubrics—socio-demographic, risk behaviours, and economic and public health—and subjected the totality of the data to OLS regressions. Independent variables successfully explain much of the overall variance among OECD countries in the timing of the outbreak (R 2 =63.0%), in morbidity (R2=50.0%) and mortality (R2=41.5%). Immigration stock enhanced the outbreak of the pandemic in host countries; it did not, however, had a significant effect neither on morbidity nor on mortality rates. Country economic status and healthcare services are significant in moderating the health outcomes of coronavirus infection. Nevertheless, the paramount determinants for restraining contagion and mortality are governmental measures. I speculate that this may reshape the equilibrium between push and pull factors hence, the international migration system in near future.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)413-423
Number of pages11
JournalMigration Letters
Issue number4
StatePublished - 20 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Transnational Press London Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • COVID-19
  • Morbidity
  • Mortality
  • OECD
  • Outbreak


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