di Leonardo Becchetti
(con Gianluigi Conzo, Pierlugi Conzo, Francesco Salustri)
The uneven geographical distribution of the novel coronavirus epidemic (COVID-19) in Italy is a puzzle given the intense flow of movements among the different geographical areas before lockdown decisions. To shed light on it we test the effect of five potential correlates of daily adverse COVID19 outcomes at province level, that is lockdown decisions, demographic structure, economic activity, temperature and particulate matter. We find that poor quality of air has a crucial role in making the effects of epidemic more serious, while lockdown and social distancing seem to be effective for contagions, but not yet for deceases. Consistent with previous studies, poor quality of air creates chronic exposure to adverse outcomes from respiratory diseases that increases such adverse outcomes in presence of virus circulation. The heterogeneity of diffusion does not seem to depend on other preexisting factorsthat we test, i.e. temperature, commuting, health system efficiency, population density and the presence of Chinese community. We find, however, that COVID-19 outcomes are correlated with the presence of artisan firms. Our findings provide suggestions for investigating uneven geographical distribution patterns in other countries, and have relevant implications with respect to environmental and lockdown policies.