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Pandemic economics: the 1918 influenza and its modern-day implications


  • Thomas A. Garrett


Many predictions of the economic and social costs of a modern-day pandemic are based on the effects of the influenza pandemic of 1918. Despite killing 675,000 people in the United States and 40 million worldwide, the influenza of 1918 has been nearly forgotten. The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the influenza pandemic of 1918 in the United States, its economic effects, and its implications for a modern-day pandemic. The paper provides a brief historical background as well as detailed influenza mortality statistics for cities and states, including those in the Eighth Federal Reserve District, that account for differences in race, income, and place of residence. Information is obtained from two sources: (i) newspaper articles published during the pandemic and (ii) a survey of economic research on the subject.

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  • Thomas A. Garrett, 2008. "Pandemic economics: the 1918 influenza and its modern-day implications," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Mar, pages 74-94.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlrv:y:2008:i:mar:p:74-94:n:v.90no.2

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-1037, October.
    2. Robert M. Solow, 1956. "A Contribution to the Theory of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(1), pages 65-94.
    3. J. David Cummins & Olivier Mahul, 2004. "The Demand for Insurance With an Upper Limit on Coverage," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 71(2), pages 253-264.
    4. Hugh Rockoff, 2004. "Until it's Over, Over There: The U.S. Economy in World War I," NBER Working Papers 10580, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Karlsson, Martin & Nilsson, Therese & Pichler, Stefan, 2012. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger? The impact of the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic on economic performance in Sweden," Darmstadt Discussion Papers in Economics 211, Darmstadt University of Technology, Department of Law and Economics.
    2. 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.

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