COVID in Italy, the Most Affected are the Peripheral Municipalities

COVID in Italy, the Most Affected are the Peripheral Municipalities


Francesco Armillei worked on "Did COVID-19 hit harder in peripheral areas? The case of Italian municipalities", while he was a student of the MSc in Economics and Social Sciences at Bocconi.
The paper shows which municipalities the virus hit hardest and the underlying reasons. "It's not just about understanding the differences between north and south or between regions, but we were interested in a more granular analysis," Armillei points out. "One of the interesting findings is that those most affected, in relative terms, were the peripheral municipalities. At the time of the first COVID wave, Milan was mentioned so much because it had a high number of deaths, in absolute terms. However, comparing the number of deaths to the population, it emerged that the towns most affected were actually those a bit more peripheral.''
The idea for the paper arose at the end of the first lockdown in Italy, when Armillei and Francesco Filippucci, MSc alumnus in Economics and Social Science at Bocconi, realized that there was very little work on the Italian case. This led to their desire to give it a try, also thanks to the data analysis skills they learned during their Master program and the databases they had at their disposal.
"During this experience, when we sent the paper to the journal, one particularly instructive point was the phase in which we had to deal with the critical points raised by the referees, since we had to try to reason about those highlighted points of criticism and see if they could be solved. It was very useful to discuss with several professors at Bocconi, including Paolo Pinotti and Giulia Giupponi, who very kindly accepted to read our work and give us some advice," says Armillei.
Armillei enrolled at Bocconi after a Bachelor degree in Bologna. "A very positive aspect of my experience at Bocconi was indeed the richness of the environment in terms of relationships with colleagues and professors. In addition, it was important to have the opportunity to have relationships, both work-related and research-related, with professors before graduation. In my opinion, this means that Bocconi students are exposed to the world of research at a very early stage, but in a good way. In fact, they are not there just to open the book and learn the lesson, but they realize what it means to do research, to be a research assistant, and how a professor thinks."
Armillei is now a Pre-Doctoral Research Assistant at the London School of Economics and Political Science. This choice was influenced by the experience of writing and publishing the paper, which reinforced his desire to continue in the research field. "The work for the paper started and took place while I was still a student, so potentially I could have taken different paths, but the experience was so informative, interesting and challenging that it convinced me to continue on this path," concludes Armillei.
Francesco Armillei, Francesco Filippucci and Thomas Fletcher, “Did Covid-19 hit harder in peripheral areas? The case of Italian municipalities”, Economics & Human Biology, Aug. 2021, DOI:

by Weiwei Chen
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