IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/igi/igierp/661.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Epidemics and Trust: The Case of the Spanish Flu

Author

Listed:
  • Arnstein Aassve
  • Guido Alfani
  • Francesco Gandolfi
  • Marco Le Moglie

Abstract

Recent studies argue that major crises can have long lasting effects on individual behavior. While most studies focused on natural disasters, we explore the consequences of the global pandemic caused by a lethal influenza virus in 1918-19: the so-called “Spanish Flu”. This was by far the worst pandemic of modern history, causing up to 100 million deaths worldwide. Using information about attitudes of respondents to the General Social Survey (GSS), we find evidence that experiencing the pandemic likely had permanent consequences in terms of individuals’ social trust. Our findings suggest that lower social trust was passed on to the descendants of the survivors of the Spanish Flu who migrated to the US. As trust is a crucial factor for long-term economic development, our research offers a new angle from which to assess current health threats. JEL Classification: I15, N3, Z1 Keywords: Epidemic, Generalized trust, Spanish flu, Pandemic, Mortality crisis

Suggested Citation

  • Arnstein Aassve & Guido Alfani & Francesco Gandolfi & Marco Le Moglie, 2020. "Epidemics and Trust: The Case of the Spanish Flu," Working Papers 661, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  • Handle: RePEc:igi:igierp:661
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://repec.unibocconi.it/igier/igi/wp/2020/661.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Alfani, Guido & Murphy, Tommy E., 2017. "Plague and Lethal Epidemics in the Pre-Industrial World," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 77(1), pages 314-343, March.
    2. Remi Jedwab & Noel D. Johnson & Mark Koyama, 2019. "Negative shocks and mass persecutions: evidence from the Black Death," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 345-395, December.
    3. Johnson,Noel D. & Koyama,Mark, 2019. "Persecution and Toleration," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781108425025.
    4. Michal Bauer & Christopher Blattman & Julie Chytilová & Joseph Henrich & Edward Miguel & Tamar Mitts, 2016. "Can War Foster Cooperation?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 249-274, Summer.
    5. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2016. "Long-Term Persistence," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 14(6), pages 1401-1436, December.
    6. Guido Tabellini, 2008. "Presidential Address Institutions and Culture," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(2-3), pages 255-294, 04-05.
    7. Sara Lowes & Eduardo Montero, 2021. "The Legacy of Colonial Medicine in Central Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 111(4), pages 1284-1314, April.
    8. Alan I. Barreca & Melanie Guldi & Jason M. Lindo & Glen R. Waddell, 2011. "Saving Babies? Revisiting the effect of very low birth weight classification," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 2117-2123.
    9. Nico Voigtländer & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2012. "Persecution Perpetuated: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Semitic Violence in Nazi Germany," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(3), pages 1339-1392.
    10. Guido Tabellini, 2010. "Culture and Institutions: Economic Development in the Regions of Europe," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 677-716, June.
    11. Barrios, John & Benmelech, Efraim & Hochberg, Yael & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2020. "Civic Capital and Social Distancing during the Covid-19 Pandemic," CEPR Discussion Papers 14900, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Aitor Calo-Blanco & Jaromír Kovářík & Friederike Mengel & José Gabriel Romero, 2017. "Natural disasters and indicators of social cohesion," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 12(6), pages 1-13, June.
    13. Andreas Lichter & Max Löffler & Sebastian Siegloch, 2021. "The Long-Term Costs of Government Surveillance: Insights from Stasi Spying in East Germany," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 741-789.
    14. Richardson, Gary & McBride, Michael, 2009. "Religion, longevity, and cooperation: The case of the craft guild," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 172-186, August.
    15. Jeffery K. Taubenberger & Ann H. Reid & Raina M. Lourens & Ruixue Wang & Guozhong Jin & Thomas G. Fanning, 2005. "Characterization of the 1918 influenza virus polymerase genes," Nature, Nature, vol. 437(7060), pages 889-893, October.
    16. Nathan Nunn & Leonard Wantchekon, 2011. "The Slave Trade and the Origins of Mistrust in Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3221-3252, December.
    17. Alfani, Guido, 2020. "Pandemics and asymmetric shocks: evidence from the history of plague in Europe and the Mediterranean," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 478, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    18. Yann Algan & Pierre Cahuc, 2014. "Trust, Well-Being and Growth: New Evidence and Policy Implications," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/33o86cn6qp8, Sciences Po.
    19. Lin, Ming-Jen & Liu, Elaine M., 2014. "Does in utero exposure to Illness matter? The 1918 influenza epidemic in Taiwan as a natural experiment," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 152-163.
    20. Hideki Toya & Mark Skidmore, 2014. "Do Natural Disasters Enhance Societal Trust?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(2), pages 255-279, May.
    21. Guido Alfani & Marco Percoco, 2019. "Plague and long‐term development: the lasting effects of the 1629–30 epidemic on the Italian cities," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 72(4), pages 1175-1201, November.
    22. 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.
    23. Matthias Flückiger & Markus Ludwig & Ali Sina Önder, 2019. "Ebola and State Legitimacy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 129(621), pages 2064-2089.
    24. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2012. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Risk and Trust Attitudes," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(2), pages 645-677.
    25. Alwyn Young, 2005. "The Gift of the Dying: The Tragedy of AIDS and the Welfare of Future African Generations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 423-466.
    26. Algan, Yann & Cahuc, Pierre, 2014. "Trust, Growth, and Well-Being: New Evidence and Policy Implications," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 2, pages 49-120, Elsevier.
    27. Carillo, Mario & Jappelli, Tullio, 2020. "Pandemics and Local Economic Growth: Evidence from the Great Influenza in Italy," CEPR Discussion Papers 14849, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    28. repec:aei:rpaper:1008560098 is not listed on IDEAS
    29. Lembke B., 1918. "√ a. p," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 111(1), pages 709-712, February.
    30. Rafael A. Medina & Balaji Manicassamy & Silke Stertz & Christopher W. Seibert & Rong Hai & Robert B. Belshe & Sharon E. Frey & Christopher F. Basler & Peter Palese & Adolfo García-Sastre, 2010. "Pandemic 2009 H1N1 vaccine protects against 1918 Spanish influenza virus," Nature Communications, Nature, vol. 1(1), pages 1-6, December.
    31. Myrskylä, M. & Mehta, N.K. & Chang, V.W., 2013. "Early life exposure to the 1918 influenza pandemic and old-age mortality by cause of death," American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, vol. 103(7), pages 83-90.
    32. Bengtsson, Tommy & Helgertz, Jonas, 2015. "The Long Lasting Influenza: The Impact of Fetal Stress during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic on Socioeconomic Attainment and Health in Sweden 1968-2012," IZA Discussion Papers 9327, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    33. Buggle, Johannes & Durante, Ruben, 2017. "Climate Risk, Cooperation, and the Co-Evolution of Culture and Institutions," CEPR Discussion Papers 12380, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    34. Uslaner, Eric & yamamura, Eiji, 2016. "Disaster and political trust: The Japan Tsunami and Earthquake of 2011," MPRA Paper 70527, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Paolo Buonanno & Giacomo Plevani & Marcello Puca, 2021. "Earthquake Hazard and Civic Capital," CSEF Working Papers 612, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    2. Graziella Bertocchi & Arcangelo Dimico, 2020. "COVID-19, Race, and Redlining," EIEF Working Papers Series 2018, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Jul 2020.
    3. Graziella Bertocchi & Arcangelo Dimico, 2020. "COVID-19, Race, and Redlining," Department of Economics 0175, University of Modena and Reggio E., Faculty of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    4. Chaudhary, Latika & Rubin, Jared & Iyer, Sriya & Shrivastava, Anand, 2020. "Culture and colonial legacy: Evidence from public goods games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 173(C), pages 107-129.
    5. Xue, Melanie Meng & Koyama, Mark, 2018. "Autocratic Rule and Social Capital: Evidence from Imperial China," MPRA Paper 84249, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Bai, Liang & Wu, Lingwei, 2020. "Political movement and trust formation: Evidence from the Cultural Revolution (1966–76)," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 122(C).
    7. Remi Jedwab & Amjad M. Khan & Richard Damania & Jason Russ & Esha D. Zaveri, 2020. "Pandemics, Poverty, and Social Cohesion: Lessons from the Past and Possible Solutions for COVID-19," Working Papers 2020-13, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    8. Conzo, Pierluigi & Aassve, Arnstein & Fuochi, Giulia & Mencarini, Letizia, 2017. "The cultural foundations of happiness," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 268-283.
    9. Maseland, Robbert, 2021. "Contingent determinants," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 151(C).
    10. Buechel, Berno & Hellmann, Tim & Pichler, Michael M., 2014. "The dynamics of continuous cultural traits in social networks," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 154(C), pages 274-309.
    11. A. Alesina & P. Giuliano., 2016. "Culture and institutions," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 10.
    12. Christian Ochsner & Felix Roesel, 2020. "Migrating Extremists," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 130(628), pages 1135-1172.
    13. Boenisch, Peter & Schneider, Lutz, 2013. "The social capital legacy of communism-results from the Berlin Wall experiment," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 391-411.
    14. Bargain, Olivier & Aminjonov, Ulugbek, 2020. "Trust and compliance to public health policies in times of COVID-19," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 192(C).
    15. Algan, Yann & Cahuc, Pierre, 2014. "Trust, Growth, and Well-Being: New Evidence and Policy Implications," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 2, pages 49-120, Elsevier.
    16. Asano, Koji, 2018. "Trust and Law in Credit Markets," MPRA Paper 90482, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Karaja, Elira & Rubin, Jared, 2022. "Θ The cultural transmission of trust norms: Evidence from a lab in the field on a natural experiment," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 1-19.
    18. Johannes C. Buggle, 2020. "Growing collectivism: irrigation, group conformity and technological divergence," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 25(2), pages 147-193, June.
    19. Lewis Davis, 2016. "Individual Responsibility and Economic Development: Evidence from Rainfall Data," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(3), pages 426-470, August.
    20. Ljunge, Martin, 2014. "Trust issues: Evidence on the intergenerational trust transmission among children of immigrants," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 175-196.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    epidemic; generalized trust; spanish flu; pandemic; mortality crisis;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:igi:igierp:661. 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: . General contact details of provider: http://www.igier.unibocconi.it/ .

    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 CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.igier.unibocconi.it/ .

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.