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Abstract

Covid-19 is the latest blow to the ailing liberal international order, which has faced a series of challenges in the postwar era. This article traces the global spread of the virus scaled to population and case fatality rates of different countries. Using inferential statistics, I find that liberal democracies have higher case fatality rates than other regime types and offer some plausible explanations for why. Systemically, I show how the spread of the virus complicates the implementation of policies consistent with liberal international order, potentially destroying the order in which liberal democracies participate. Given the paucity of the data as well as cross-country reporting differences in a still evolving crisis, these findings provide a first social scientific cut over the first half year of the pandemic rather than a final assessment of its consequences.

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