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Influenza Pandemics and Macroeconomic Fluctuations in Recent Economic History

Fraser Summerfield and Livio Di Matteo

No 210002, Working Papers from Canadian Centre for Health Economics

Abstract: COVID-19 and the associated economic disruption is not a unique pairing. Catastrophic health events including the Black Death and the Spanish Flu also featured major economic disruptions. This paper focuses on significant health shocks during 1870-2016 from a singular virus: influenza. Our analysis builds on a literature dominated by long-run analyses by documenting the causal impact of influenza pandemics on short-run macroeconomic fluctuations. We examine 16 developed economies combining the Jorda-Schularick-Taylor Macro History Database with the Human Mortality Database. Our results reveal important negative impacts. Further, we illustrate that these effects operate through different channels over time. Prior to vaccines, pandemic-induced mortality was responsible for economic contractions while modern flu-induced cycles appear to arise because of pandemic-induced consumption decreases.

Keywords: Pandemics; Business Cycles; Mortality; Consumption; GDP Fluctuations (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: E32 I18 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 26 pages
Date: 2021-03
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-gro, nep-hea, nep-his and nep-mac
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Published Online, March 2021

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