Antonietti R., Falbo P., Fontini F., Grassi R., Rizzini G. (2022).
The world trade network: country centrality and the COVID-19 pandemic. Applied Network Science, Volume 7, Article 18.
International trade is based on a set of complex relationships between different countries that can be modelled as an extremely dense network of interconnected agents. On the one hand, this network might favour the economic growth of countries, but on the other, it can also favour the diffusion of diseases, such as COVID-19. In this paper, we study whether, and to what extent, the topology of the trade network can explain the rate of COVID-19 diffusion and mortality across countries. We compute the countries’ centrality measures and we apply the community detection methodology based on communicability distance. We then use these measures as focal regressors in a negative binomial regression framework. In doing so, we also compare the effects of different measures of centrality. Our results show that the numbers of infections and fatalities are larger in countries with a higher centrality in the global trade network.