Separation of power and expertise: Evidence of the tyranny of experts in Sweden's COVID-19 responses.

Bylund PL, Packard MD

South Econ J - (-) - [2021-02-19; online 2021-02-19]

Whereas most countries in the COVID-19 pandemic imposed shutdowns and curfews to mitigate the contagion, Sweden uniquely pursued a more voluntarist approach. In this article, our interest is primarily on how and why Sweden's approach to the pandemic was so unique. There are two parts to this research question: (1) why did virtually all other nations follow a radical lockdown protocol despite limited evidence to its effectiveness and (2) why did Sweden not follow this same protocol despite strong political pressures? The answers to these questions lie within typical government technocracy versus Sweden's constitutional separation of government and technocracy. We review the history of the responses to the pandemic and show how the "tyranny of experts" was severe within the typical technocratic policy response, and attenuated in Sweden's. Thus, the recent pandemic offers empirical evidence and insights regarding the role of Hayekian knowledge problems in engendering a technocratic "tyranny of experts" and how such effects can be structurally mitigated.

Category: Public Health

Type: Journal article

PubMed 33821054

DOI 10.1002/soej.12493

Crossref 10.1002/soej.12493

pii: SOEJ12493
pmc: PMC8014802

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