Subnational government responses to the Covid-19 pandemic: Expectations, realities and lessons for the future

Paul Smoke, Mehmet Serkan Tosun, Serdar Yilmaz

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review


Although national government and international actor responses to the Covid-19 pandemic have been very much in the public eye, the subnational government role has received less attention. Certain pandemic impacts were universal, but the mix and relative severity differed across countries, The actions taken had to reflect these variations, as well as to reflect country socio-economic, fiscal, institutional and political context. Diversity across areas within countries also required differentiated action. This article provides an overview of the potential subnational government role in pandemic response, summarizes what is known about what actually occurred, and raises the prospect that what was learned in the pandemic might help policymakers and managers both to identify ways to better respond in future crises and to create awareness of and opportunities for needed reforms in intergovernmental systems. This background sets the stage for other articles in this issue that focus on selected countries. Their experiences reinforce lessons from global experience and also provide insights from deeper analysis of specific cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-105
Number of pages9
JournalPublic Administration and Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2023


  • Covid-19 pandemic
  • crisis responce
  • decentralization
  • intergovernmental relations
  • subnational governments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Public Administration


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