We were talking about the point of our COVID-19 policies being about preventing deaths. We now see from OurWorldInData that different countries had very different results in regards to excess deaths. While Sweden has had more deaths than its Scandinavian neighbors of Finland and Norway, it has less than half of the excess deaths of the United Kingdom and less than a third of that of the United States. If we truly care about the deaths, finding out why that's the case and what's driven the high excess deaths in some countries looks to me like an important project.

Does anyone have a good graph of why the status quo looks the way it does?

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  1. There's going to be some significant error in estimating excess deaths, especially for developing countries.
  2. Because of the exponential spread of the virus, if people lock down ~4 days earlier they'll end up with half as many deaths. (In reality lock downs aren't all-or-none, etc). So big absolute differences in number of deaths do not imply big differences in policy or culture between the UK and Sweden. 

There are at least three additional maps on OurWorldInData that maybe partially could explain it:

Trust (1)

Healthcare Expenditure

Population density

(1) Unfortunately those numbers are from 2014. Given the political developments in the UK and in the US more recent data could look different. And "trust in government" would likely be the more relevant data point.

One interesting pattern is that Canada, Iceland and the Scandinavian countries which are far North geographically have lower countries than more mid/southern EU countries and the US.