Researcher ORCID Identifier


Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Hilary Appel

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2021 Julia A. Hwang


The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the drastic difference in the performance outcomes between nations’ COVID-19 responses and whether state capacity is enough to explain those differences. Since the beginning of the pandemic, some countries have been able to endure the pandemic relatively well, keeping case and mortality numbers low. Other countries, on the other hand, have suffered through millions of cases and hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 related deaths. State capacity is a crucial factor in the state’s power to respond to pandemics and is defined simply as a government’s ability to design and implement decisions. By analyzing three case studies – Germany, Italy, and Spain, this thesis finds that state capacity is important for the effectiveness of a response, but it is only one of the multiple factors that can explain the various success rates of countries against the pandemic. These other factors include population demographics, government structure, leadership, and trust in government. It is difficult to predict the results of a nation’s response. However, what we can do is learn from the mistakes and make changes to governments and institutions in order to better prepare for the next crisis that comes to call.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.