Despite historical experience and health state capacity, Brazil has struggled to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Whereas past administrations have proactively mobilized resources to combat pandemics, Bolsanaro’s administration has taken a more passive role, claiming that the negative effects of quarantine measures outweigh positive benefits. The lack of a federal response allowed state governors to decide how to handle the pandemic in their respective territories. In some cases, state governors, across different political parties, banded together to procure vaccinations for their citizens. At the municipal level, mayors have varied in their implementation of public health guidance and support for their citizens.
What explains subnational variation in the enactment of public politics aimed at addressing the pandemic? Brazil’s decentralized health system created new opportunities for citizens, bureaucrats, and politicians to engage each other. The federal government provided local health systems autonomy over their resources and management. Brazil’s decentralized system has created short- and long-term effects, not only in everyday health politics, but also in the institutional climate of medical and non-medical interventions during pandemics.
Current studies on Brazil have almost exclusively focused on state responses (see Castro et al. (2021), de Moura Villela et al. (2021), Barberia et al. (2021), Barberia et al. (2020)). Even studies who have looked at municipal responses to COVID 19 (see de Souza Santos et al. (2021)) exclusively rely on survey data and do not provide political explanations for why certain municipalities enacted all, some, or none of the possible policies against the coronavirus. The goal of the project will be to analyze, code, and create an original dataset which reflects the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in Brazil and begin introductory analysis in preparation for the research supervisor's fieldwork.
For this project, undergraduate student(s) will be downloading, reading, and coding daily municipal publications from a randomly selected sample of Brazilian municipalities. They will be searching for key words, decrees, or policies which reflect government actions against COVID 19, including but not limited to mask mandates, school closures, limits on public transportation, and welfare policies designed to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. Students will be expected to sift through more than a year's worth of publications for about 15-20 municipalities. They will need to follow a coding scheme and think critically to include or exclude certain data points in coordination with the project supervisor. The day-to-day supervisor for this project is Adan Steve Martinez, PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley.