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The Long-term Consequences of the Global 1918 Influenza Pandemic: A Systematic Analysis of 117 IPUMS International Census Data Sets

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  • Sebastian Vollmer

    (University of Göttingen)

  • Juditha Wójcik

    (University of Mainz)

Abstract

Several country-level studies, including a prominent one for the United States, have identified long-term effects of in-utero exposure to the 1918 influenza pandemic (also known as the Spanish Flu) on economic outcomes in adulthood. In-utero conditions are theoretically linked to adult health and socioeconomic status through the fetal origins or Barker hypothesis. Historical exposure to the Spanish Flu provides a natural experiment to test this hypothesis. Although the Spanish Flu was a global phenomenon, with around 500 million people infected worldwide, there exists no comprehensive global study on its long-term economic effects. We attempt to close this gap by systematically analyzing 117 Census data sets provided by IPUMS International. We do not find consistent global long-term effects of influenza exposure on education, employment and disability outcomes. A series of robustness checks does not alter this conclusion. Our findings indicate that the existing evidence on long-term economic effects of the Spanish Flu is likely a consequence of publication bias.

Suggested Citation

  • Sebastian Vollmer & Juditha Wójcik, 2017. "The Long-term Consequences of the Global 1918 Influenza Pandemic: A Systematic Analysis of 117 IPUMS International Census Data Sets," CINCH Working Paper Series 1708, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health.
  • Handle: RePEc:duh:wpaper:1708
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    4. Daniel de Kadt & Johan Fourie & Jan Greyling & Elie Murard & Johannes Norling, 2020. "The causes and consequences of the 1918 influenza in South Africa," Working Papers 12/2020, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Spanish Flu; 1918 Influenza Pandemic; Fetal Origins Hypothesis;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries

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