The number of COVID 19 cases has been increasing continuously in the country. The total number of cases is more than twenty one thousand by now. 34 states and union territories are impacted by this deadly virus. However the impact has been varying across states and union territories. The mortality rate of Covid 19 is just over 3% and among the completed cases the recovery rate is over 87%.

GDP at a state level gives the indication of the economic growth of the states and Human Development Index (HDI) gives a performance of the state in terms of basic social indicators like health, education and economic ability. Let us examine how has states with varying levels of GDP and HDI has fared in terms of spread of COVID 19 cases and also in terms of treatment and test measures.


The states with higher GDP has been seen having the higher number of cases of COVID 19. Maharashtra, the top ranked state in terms of GDP accounts for almost 25% of the total cases of COVID 19 in the country. Among the national capital and union territories, Delhi, has the highest GDP and also has the highest number of cases of COVID 19. If we focus into the cities, 8 of the top ten cities in terms of GDP are in top 10 in the number of COVID cases across cities.

So it can be seen that richer is the state and within that richer is the city, higher is the number of COVID 19 cases in those cities and states. This deadly virus has originated in Wuhan, China and has spread across the globe mostly due to travel of people. The cities and states with higher GDP, has higher number of people traveling from international locations and hence are more susceptible to have a severe spread of this disease. New York, the richest city in terms of GDP, has the highest number of cases of corona virus across all the cities in the world. Mumbai has been the worst affected city in India. It must be noted here that the Mumbai airport is regarded as the busiest single runway airport in the world. Hence given the very nature of the spread of this virus, the richer places have seen more incidence of this deadly virus.

HDI shows a very low correlation with spread of corona virus. The correlation is -12%. It suggests that higher the HDI, lower is the spread. But this is not a very strong relationship.

So in a nutshell, the states with higher GDP, show more number of cases of corona virus.


Effectiveness of treatment of corona virus across states can be measured by the following three indicators:

  • Number of tests conducted per 1 million population
  • Mortality Rate ( Ratio of number of death by all cases of Corona Virus)
  • Recovery Rate ( Ratio of recovered cases by total number of recovered plus death cases)

It has been observed that higher the rank of the states in terms of HDI, higher is the number of tests conducted in the state per one million customer. Eight of the top 15 states in terms of HDI rank are in the list of top 15 states which have conducted more tests in the country. However it has been seen that the same stronger relationship does not hold between GDP and number of tests conducted across states.

It is been seen that states with higher HDI, have lower mortality rate and higher recovery rate. Kerala, the state with the highest HDI has 99.4% recovery rate and a very minimal mortality rate. Higher HDI means more focus on healthcare and other social factors leading to better outcome in terms of indicators of healthcare and education. The states with higher HDI, thus have better preparedness in handling this pandemic and are showing better outcome in terms of mortality rate, recovery rate and also test rate. This has been the story in our country at least. GDP on the other hand does not impact the treatment effectiveness much. Maharashtra, the state with highest GDP but a lower HDI show a much higher mortality rate of 4.8% and lower recovery rate of 74.6% as compared to the national average for both mortality (3.2%) and recovery( 87%) rates.

Among the top ten states in terms of HDI , 7 states have a recovery rate of more than 95% and 9 states have recovery rate below the national average. Similarly 5 out of the top ten states in terms of HDI has a mortality rate of less than 1% and 8 states have mortality rate lower than that of the national average. 8 of top 10 ten states in terms of HDI, have higher number of tests per 1 million population than the national average. All the above findings clearly shows higher HDI indicates higher treatment effectiveness of the states.

However when one looks in terms of GDP , it is observed that 5 of the top 10 states have a mortality rate higher than the national average and only 2 of the top 10 states in terms of GDP has a recovery rate of more than 95%.

So in a nutshell it is observed that while states with higher HDI are showing better effectiveness in terms of treatment of this deadly virus, the same pattern is not witnessed with regard to states with higher GDP.


So in conclusion, while given the nature of the spread of this virus, it is observed that richer states and cities have more prevalence of COVID 19, it is also seen that these richer states are not showing improved effectiveness in terms of treatment of this virus. On the other hand, states with higher HDI, shows better effectiveness in terms of treatment of corona virus and also these states have a lesser spread of the disease ( the correlation is weak though).

So this clearly calls out for a focus on social infrastructure as those are the states which have higher HDI and a better preparedness to handle this kind of pandemic situation. So while growth rate of GDP is important, equally if not more it is also important to focus on social indicators and ensure better outcome of healthcare activities.

One comment

  1. It’s also possible that cities have less stigma associated with getting yourself tested.

    People in small towns and rural areas are scared, they are afraid of being shunned away if they test positive. So they aren’t coming forward to be tested.

    The infrastructure to test is also greater in the high GDP cities. The number of cases directly correlate with the number of tests done.

    Many factors are at play here. International travel is how the virus entered the country, but we can’t say that it is the sole reason for the large number of cases in cities and well-off states.


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