IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? The Impact of the 1918 Spanish Flu Epidemic on Economic Performance in Sweden

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

We study the impact of the 1918 influenza pandemic on 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 important implications for modern-day pandemics. In this paper, we exploit seemingly exogenous variation in incidence rates between Swedish regions to estimate the impact of the pandemic. Using difference-in-differences and high-quality administrative data from Sweden, we estimate the effects on earnings, capital returns and poverty. We find that the pandemic led to a significant increase in poverty rates. There is also relatively strong evidence that capital returns were negatively affected by the pandemic. On the other hand, we find robust evidence that the influenza had no discernible effect on earnings. This finding is surprising since it goes against most previous empirical studies as well as theoretical predictions.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Our checks indicate that this address may not be valid because: 403 Forbidden ( [301 Moved Permanently]--> If this is indeed the case, please notify (Dekanatssekretariat)

Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Darmstadt Technical University, Department of Business Administration, Economics and Law, Institute of Economics (VWL) in its series Darmstadt Discussion Papers in Economics with number 57149.

in new window

Date of creation: 16 Mar 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Darmstadt Discussion Papers in Economics . 211 (2012-03-16)
Handle: RePEc:dar:ddpeco:57149
Note: for complete metadata visit
Contact details of provider: Postal: Hochschulstr. 1, 64289 Darmstadt
Phone: ++49 (0)6151 16-2701
Fax: ++49 (0)6151 16-6508
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Richard E. Nelson, 2010. "Testing the Fetal Origins Hypothesis in a developing country: evidence from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(10), pages 1181-1192.
  2. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," NBER Working Papers 8841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Philippe Aghion & Peter Howitt, 1990. "A Model of Growth Through Creative Destruction," NBER Working Papers 3223, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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.
  5. Raouf Boucekkine & Jean-Pierre Laffargue, 2010. "On the distributional consequences of epidemics," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-00642090, HAL.
  6. Brainerd, Elizabeth & Siegler, Mark V, 2003. "The Economic Effects of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic," CEPR Discussion Papers 3791, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Thomas A. Garrett, 2009. "War And Pestilence As Labor Market Shocks: U.S. Manufacturing Wage Growth 1914-1919," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 47(4), pages 711-725, October.
  8. Marcus R. Keogh-Brown & Simon Wren-Lewis & W. John Edmunds & Philippe Beutels & Richard D. Smith, 2010. "The possible macroeconomic impact on the UK of an influenza pandemic," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(11), pages 1345-1360.
  9. BOUCEKKINE, Raouf & DIENE, Bity & AZOMAHOU, Théophile, . "Growth economics of epidemics: A review of the theory," CORE Discussion Papers RP 2004, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  10. Raouf BOUCEKKINE & Jean-Pierre LAFFARGUE, 2009. "On the Distributional Consequences of Epidemics," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2009012, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
  11. Jerry Hausman & Guido Kuersteiner, 2005. "Difference in Difference Meets Generalized Least Squares: Higher Order Properties of Hypotheses Tests," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2005-010, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  12. Mamelund, Svenn-Erik, 2006. "A socially neutral disease? Individual social class, household wealth and mortality from Spanish influenza in two socially contrasting parishes in Kristiania 1918-19," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(4), pages 923-940, February.
  13. Sharon L. Maccini & Dean Yang, 2008. "Under the Weather: Health, Schooling, and Economic Consequences of Early-Life Rainfall," NBER Working Papers 14031, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Luis A. Rivera-Batiz & Paul M. Romer, 1990. "Economic Integration and Endogenous Growth," NBER Working Papers 3528, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter, 1992. "A Model of Growth Through Creative Destruction," Scholarly Articles 12490578, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  16. Kiefer, Nicholas M., 1980. "Estimation of fixed effect models for time series of cross-sections with arbitrary intertemporal covariance," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 195-202, October.
  17. Anderson, James E, 1979. "A Theoretical Foundation for the Gravity Equation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 106-16, March.
  18. Stephen G. Donald & Kevin Lang, 2007. "Inference with Difference-in-Differences and Other Panel Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 221-233, May.
  19. Hanson, Gordon H. & Slaughter, Matthew J., 2002. "Labor-market adjustment in open economies: Evidence from US states," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 3-29, June.
  20. Helen Robbins, 1928. "A Comparison of the Effects of the Black Death on the Economic Organization of France and England," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36, pages 447.
  21. Andrew K. Rose, 2000. "One money, one market: the effect of common currencies on trade," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 15(30), pages 7-46, 04.
  22. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:dar:ddpeco:57149. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dekanatssekretariat)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.