Disease, Downturns, and Wellbeing: Economic History and the Long-Run Impacts of COVID-19
Vellore Arthi and
John Parman ()
No 27805, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc
How might COVID-19 affect human capital and wellbeing in the long run? The COVID-19 pandemic has already imposed a heavy human cost—taken together, this public health crisis and its attendant economic downturn appear poised to dwarf the scope, scale, and disruptiveness of most modern pandemics. What evidence we do have about other modern pandemics is largely limited to short-run impacts. Consequently, recent experience can do little to help us anticipate and respond to COVID-19’s potential long-run impact on individuals over decades and even generations. History, however, offers a solution. Historical crises offer closer analogues to COVID-19 in each of its key dimensions—as a global pandemic, as a global recession—and offer the runway necessary to study the life-course and intergenerational outcomes. In this paper, we review the evidence on the long-run effects on health, labor, and human capital of both historical pandemics (with a focus on the 1918 Influenza Pandemic) and historical recessions (with a focus on the Great Depression). We conclude by discussing how past crises can inform our approach to COVID-19—helping tell us what to look for, what to prepare for, and what data we ought to collect now.
JEL-codes: I1 I3 J1 J6 N1 N3 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hap, nep-hea, nep-his, nep-lab and nep-ore
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (6) Track citations by RSS feed
Published as Vellore Arthi & John Parman, 2020. "Disease, downturns, and wellbeing: Economic history and the long-run impacts of COVID-19," Explorations in Economic History, .
Downloads: (external link)
Journal Article: Disease, downturns, and wellbeing: Economic history and the long-run impacts of COVID-19 (2021)
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.
Export reference: BibTeX
RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan)
Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:nbr:nberwo:27805
Ordering information: This working paper can be ordered from
Access Statistics for this paper
More papers in NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.. Contact information at EDIRC.
Bibliographic data for series maintained by ().