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GDP Effects of Pandemics: A Historical Perspective

Maciej Stefański

No 2020-057, Working Papers from Warsaw School of Economics, Collegium of Economic Analysis

Abstract: The paper estimates dynamic effects of pandemics on GDP per capita with local projections, controlling for the effects of wars and weather conditions, using a novel dataset that covers 33 countries and stretches back to the 13th century. Pandemics are found to have prolonged and highly statistically significant effects on GDP per capita - a pandemic killing 1% of the population tends to increase GDP per capita by approx. 0.3% after about 20 years. The results are qualitatively robust to various model specifications, geographical division of the sample and an exclusion of extreme events such as the Black Death and the New World epidemics. The effects of pandemics differ from those of wars and weather, which are negative and die out quicker, in line with the neoclassical growth model.

Keywords: pandemic; GDP; local projection; economic history; war; tree rings (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I15 N10 N30 N40 N50 O47 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 38 pages
Date: 2020-12
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-env, nep-gro and nep-his
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