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The impact of the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic on economic performance in Sweden

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  • Karlsson, Martin
  • Nilsson, Therese
  • Pichler, Stefan

Abstract

We study the impact of the 1918 influenza pandemic on short- and medium-term economic performance in Sweden. The pandemic was one of the severest and deadliest pandemics in human history, but it has hitherto received only scant attention in the economic literature – despite representing an unparalleled labour supply shock. In this paper, we exploit seemingly exogenous variation in incidence rates between Swedish regions to estimate the impact of the pandemic. The pandemic led to a significant increase in poorhouse rates. There is also evidence that capital returns were negatively affected by the pandemic. However, contrary to predictions, we find no discernible effect on earnings.

Suggested Citation

  • Karlsson, Martin & Nilsson, Therese & Pichler, Stefan, 2014. "The impact of the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic on economic performance in Sweden," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 1-19.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:36:y:2014:i:c:p:1-19
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2014.03.005
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Stefan Pichler & Nicolas Ziebarth, 2016. "The Pros and Cons of Sick Pay Schemes: Testing for Contagious Presenteeism and Shirking Behavior," NBER Chapters,in: Social Insurance Programs (Trans-Atlantic Public Economic Seminar - TAPES) National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Martin Karlsson & Stefan Pichler, 2015. "Demographic consequences of HIV," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 28(4), pages 1097-1135, October.
    3. Lazuka, Volha, 2017. "The lasting health and income effects of public health formation in Sweden," Lund Papers in Economic History 153, Lund University, Department of Economic History.
    4. Andreella, Claudia & Karlsson, Martin & Nilsson, Therese & Westphal, Matthias, 2015. "The long shadows of past insults intergenerational transmission of health over 130 years," Ruhr Economic Papers 571, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    5. Pichler, Stefan & Ziebarth, Nicolas R., 2015. "The Pros and Cons of Sick Pay Schemes: A Method to Test for Contagious Presenteeism and Shirking Behavior," IZA Discussion Papers 8850, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Helgertz, Jonas & Nilsson, Anton, 2017. "The Effects of Birth Weight on Hospitalizations and Sickness Absences," Lund Papers in Economic History 157, Lund University, Department of Economic History.
    7. Boberg-Fazlic, Nina & Ivets, Maryna & Karlsson, Martin & Nilsson, Therese, 2017. "Disease and Fertility: Evidence from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic in Sweden," Working Paper Series 1179, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    8. Pichler, Stefan & Ziebarth, Nicolas R., 2017. "The pros and cons of sick pay schemes: Testing for contagious presenteeism and noncontagious absenteeism behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 156(C), pages 14-33.
    9. Richter, André & Robling, Per Olof, 2013. "Multigenerational e ffects of the 1918-19 influenza pandemic in Sweden," Working Paper Series 5/2013, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Spanish flu; Health shock; Difference-in-differences;

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

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