Did Covid-19 hit harder in peripheral areas? The case of Italian municipalities

Francesco Armillei, Francesco Filippucci, Thomas Fletcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The first wave of Covid-19 pandemic had a geographically heterogeneous impact even within the most severely hit regions. Exploiting a triple-differences methodology, we find that in Italy Covid-19 hit relatively harder in peripheral areas: the excess mortality in peripheral areas was almost double that of central ones in March 2020 (1.2 additional deaths every 1000 inhabitants). We leverage a rich dataset on Italian municipalities to explore mechanisms behind this gradient. We first show that socio-demographic and economic features at municipal level are highly collinear, making it hard to identify single-variable causal relationships. Using Principal Components Analysis we model excess mortality and show that areas with higher excess mortality have lower income, lower education, larger households, lower trade and higher industrial employments, and older population. Our findings highlight a strong centre-periphery gradient in the harshness of Covid-19, which we believe is also highly relevant from a policy-making standpoint.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101018
Number of pages16
JournalEconomics and Human Biology
Early online date21 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Covid-19 diffusion
  • Health geography
  • Geographical inequalities
  • Periphery


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