Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



COVID-19, public health, policy response, COVID testing, Sweden, Norway


The COVID-19 pandemic has served as a major challenge for political incumbents to design and implement a public policy response to track and contain the virus. This essay compares the public health strategies of Norway and Sweden to examine the failure of the non-coercive strategy of the Swedish government in the initial months of the pandemic, which led to higher case fatality and death rates per 100,000 in a population. The findings of this study represent the tragedy of the commons in health when institutions allow for individually rational behavior amidst the effort to contain and control infection.