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COVID-19 and Elderly Care Facilities: Lessons from Europe


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Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs 

Center for European Studies presents

COVID-19 and Elderly Care Facilities: Lessons from Europe

We now know that COVID-19 becomes life-threatening for people with comorbidities.  Residents of nursing homes are particularly vulnerable. In advanced democracies, many contracted the disease in nursing homes. In Italy, Spain and the US, all of which recorded staggering numbers of COVID-19 deaths, nursing homes were the major source of infection. In contrast, Germany has succeeded in containing the virus and saved lives.


This panel invites experts from Germany, Italy and Spain.  By comparing experiences of the three major European countries, we draw lessons for the United States and beyond.


Margarita León, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain

Margarita León is Associate Professor of Political Science at the Autonomous University of Barcelona where she was also a ‘Ramón y Cajal’ Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Government and Public Policies (IGOP) between 2010 and 2015. From 2003 until 2010 she was Lecturer in European social policy at the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research at the University of Kent. Between 2001 and 2003, Dr. León held a Marie Curie post-doctoral fellowship at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. She was a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley in 2018. Her main areas of research are comparative public policy and welfare state reform. She has published in numerous international peer-reviewed scientific journals. She has co-edited with Ana M. Guillén The Spanish Welfare State in European Context (2011, Ashgate) and edited The Transformation of Care in European Societies (2014, Palgrave). Dr. León is currently co-chair of the Spanish Social Policy Research Network (REPS). In 2018, she was awarded ICREA ACADEMIA for a 5-year period for excellence in research.

Costanzo Ranci, Polytechnic University of Milan, Italy

Costanzo Ranci is Professor in Economic Sociology at the Polytechnic University of Milan, where he chairs the Social Policy Research Lab. He has published many books and scientific articles on welfare, social vulnerability, and long-term care policy. Dr. Ranci has advised many Italian institutions including the Ministry of Social Affairs.  His current research is focused on long term care policy in comparative perspective, the living conditions of lone elderly people in Italy, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on nursing homes.

Karin Wolf-Ostermann, University of Bremen, Germany

Karin Wolf-Ostermann is Professor of Health Care at the Institute for Public Health and Nursing Research (IPP) at the University of Bremen where she serves as Head of Department 7: Health Care Research.  She is also a member of IPP’s board of directors and Vice Dean of the Department of Human and Health Sciences at the same University. Dr. Wolf-Ostermann serves on several national and international advisory boards concerning care program development and evaluation. Her research interests include complex interventions and outcome-related research on care-dependent people (cdp), especially older people and people with dementia (pwd). She focuses on evaluating health outcomes of interventions in actual care practice – especially in small scale living environments or for community-residing persons – and improving quality of care and support in everyday life for cdp and pwd, and their formal and informal caregivers. In addition, she has expertise in the field of new technologies in health care and nursing.



Margarita Estévez-Abe, Syracuse University

Margarita Estévez-Abe is Co-Director of Center for European Studies and Associate Professor of Political Science at Syracuse University. She taught at Harvard University before joining Syracuse and served as the first chair of Public Policy at Collegio Carlo Alberto in Turin, Italy. She specializes in comparative political economy of advanced industrial societies. She has written on the varieties of capitalism exploring the intersection of welfare states, electoral systems and the models of capitalism. She’s the author of the award-winning book Welfare Capitalism in Postwar Japan (Cambridge University Press), the editor of special journal issues on outsourcing of domestic and care work (Social Politics) and the transformation of familialist systems in East Asia and Southern Europe (Journal of European Social Policy). She is currently working on a book manuscript on Politics and Demographic Aging and a co-authored manuscript on Trans-border Families in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

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