Please join us in congratulating Didi Kuo, Center Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FS), and co-author Andrew S. Kelly, Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Sciences at California State University, East Bay, on being awarded the 2023 Leonard S. Robins Award for the Best Paper on Health Politics and Policy by the American Political Science Association (APSA)!
The Robins Award is named in honor of Leonard S. Robins, who, through his presence and gentle questioning at virtually every health politics panel, graciously nurtured the scholarship of both junior and senior scholars. The award recognizes the best paper on any subject that fits under the rubric of Health Politics and Policy presented at the previous annual APSA meeting.
Kuo and Kelly's award-winning paper, "State Capacity and Public Health: California and COVID-19," investigates the comparative COVID-19 policy response across counties and regions within California. In the description of the 2022 APSA panel "The Politics of Pandemic Response and the Opportunities for Health Policy Reform," during which they presented their paper, it notes that "In moving beyond a consideration of formal state and public health capacity, Kuo and Kelly argue that the more robust policy response of the Bay Area was, in part, a product of partnerships between state and community-based actors. Drawing on the concept of 'embedded autonomy,' Kuo and Kelly reconceptualize public health capacity and consider it within broader issues of state capacity and democracy."
An abstract of the paper can be found below:
On March 17, 2020, six counties in the Bay Area jointly issued the nation’s first shelter-in-place orders in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Cities and states across the United States quickly followed suit, with varying degrees of success. Public health officials have been critical in setting policies, enforcing behavioral and non-pharmaceutical interventions, and communicating with the public. This paper explores the determinants of public health capacity, distinguishing between formal institutional capacity (ie budget, staff) and informal embedded capacity (ie community ties, insulation from political pressures). It argues that informal embedded capacity is critical to public health capacity, but difficult to measure empirically. It concludes by relating public health capacity to broader issues of state capacity and democracy.