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Plague and Lethal Epidemics in the Pre-Industrial World

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  • Alfani, Guido
  • Murphy, Tommy E.

Abstract

This article provides an overview of recent literature on plagues and other lethal epidemics, covering the period from late Antiquity to ca. 1800. We analyze the main environmental and institutional factors that shaped both the way in which a plague originated and spread and its overall demographic and socioeconomic consequences. We clarify how the same pathogen shows historically different epidemiological characteristics, and how apparently similar epidemics could have deeply different consequences. We discuss current debates about the socioeconomic consequences of the Black Death and other plagues. We conclude with historical lessons to understand modern “plagues.â€

Suggested Citation

  • Alfani, Guido & Murphy, Tommy E., 2017. "Plague and Lethal Epidemics in the Pre-Industrial World," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 77(1), pages 314-343, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:77:y:2017:i:01:p:314-343_00
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