The Role of Public Health Expenditures in COVID-19 control: Evidence from Local Governments in England

Arnab Acharya, Carrie Wolfson, Sasmira Matta, Carolina Cardona, Sneha Lamba, David Bishai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


For over 150 years the local health departments of England have been critical in controlling 19th and 20th century infectious epidemics. However, recent administrative changes have hollowed out their flexibility to serve communities. We use administrative data on past budgetary allocations per capita to public health departments at upper tier local areas (UTLAs) of England to examine whether public health funding levels were correlated with more rapid control of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic between March and July of 2020. The dependent variable was the number of days between a UTLA's 10th case of COVID-19 and the day when new cases per 100,000 peaked and began to decline. Our models controlled for regional socio-economic factors. We found no correlation between local public health expenditure and the speed of control of COVID-19. However, overall public expenditure allocated to improve local areas helped reduce time to reach peak. Contrary to expectation, more dense areas such as London experienced shorter duration. Higher income areas had more rapid success in accelerating the time of the first peak in the first wave of their local COVID-19 incidence. We contribute to understanding the impact of how public expenditure and socio-economic factors affect an epidemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100861
JournalSSM - Population Health
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • COVID 19 incidences in local areas in england
  • Days to reach peak infection incidence
  • Determinants of duration to reach peak
  • Governance and socio-economic factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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