COVID-19 in Scandinavia

35 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2021

See all articles by Martin J. Conyon

Martin J. Conyon

Bentley University; Wharton School, Center for Human Resources

Steen Thomsen

Copenhagen Business School; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Date Written: February 16, 2021


We address two research questions. First, how did the COVID-19 disease progress in Scandinavia in 2020? Second, did Sweden’s unique public health care response lead to differential infection and mortality rates during 2020? We use synthetic control techniques to model COVID-19 dynamics, comparing Sweden to a synthetic control unit. We show that stricter lock-down policies are associated with fewer COVID-19 infections and deaths. This finding holds in the first and second waves experienced in Scandinavia. We document several important health care metrics including infection and mortality rates, reproduction rates, lockdown stringency, mobility of people, infection positivity rates, testing, and vaccination rates in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.

Note: Funding Statement: Funding from the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

Declaration of Interests: We have no known potential conflicts of interests in writing this research paper that might influence the content.

Keywords: COVID-19, Lockdown, Government Policy

JEL Classification: I18

Suggested Citation

Conyon, Martin J. and Thomsen, Steen, COVID-19 in Scandinavia (February 16, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Martin J. Conyon (Contact Author)

Bentley University ( email )

175 Forest Street
Waltham, MA 02145
United States

Wharton School, Center for Human Resources ( email )

3600 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
United States

Steen Thomsen

Copenhagen Business School ( email )

Porcelaenshaven 24A
Copenhagen, 2000
+45 38152590 (Phone)
+45 38152500 (Fax)

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels

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