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The Spanish Flu and the Labour Market

In: Pandemics, Economics and Inequality


  • Sergi Basco

    (University of Barcelona)

  • Jordi Domènech

    (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)

  • Joan R. Rosés

    (London School of Economics)


Which are the effects of pandemics on real wages? In a Malthusian (pre-industrial) economy, one would expect that population debacles increase real wages since resources (land) per head grew. However, in modern economies, pandemics may reduce consumption, which may affect labour demand and, thus, put downward pressure on real wages. During the Spanish Flu, Spanish real wages declined. The contraction was sharper in occupations in non-essential goods industries and in more urbanized provinces. This wage behaviour points out that demand factors drove the response of the labour market to the pandemic shock.

Suggested Citation

  • Sergi Basco & Jordi Domènech & Joan R. Rosés, 2022. "The Spanish Flu and the Labour Market," Palgrave Studies in Economic History, in: Pandemics, Economics and Inequality, chapter 0, pages 51-64, Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:palscp:978-3-031-05668-0_4
    DOI: 10.1007/978-3-031-05668-0_4

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