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Epidemics and Trust: The Case of the Spanish Flu

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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
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Chris Sampson’s journal round-up for 29th March 2021
      by Chris Sampson in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2021-03-29 11:00:13

    RePEc Biblio mentions

    As found on the RePEc Biblio, the curated bibliography for Economics:
    1. > Economics of Welfare > Health Economics > Economics of Pandemics > Policy responses > Behavioral
    2. > Economics of Welfare > Health Economics > Economics of Pandemics > Specific pandemics > Spanish Influenza

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    Cited by:

    1. Bartscher, Alina & Seitz, Sebastian & Siegloch, Sebastian & Slotwinski, Michaela & Wehrhöfer, Nils, 2020. "Social capital and the spread of Covid-19: Insights from European countries," CEPR Discussion Papers 14866, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Eichengreen, Barry & Aksoy, Cevat Giray & Saka, Orkun, 2021. "Revenge of the experts: Will COVID-19 renew or diminish public trust in science?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 193(C).
    3. Diego Alburez-Gutierrez, 2021. "The demographic drivers of grief and memory after genocide in Guatemala," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2021-003, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    4. 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".
    5. Luca Di Gialleonardo & Mauro Marè & Antonello Motroni & Francesco Porcelli, 2020. "Family Ties and the Pandemic: Some Evidence from Sars-CoV-2," Working papers 100, Società Italiana di Economia Pubblica.
    6. Bertocchi, Graziella & Dimico, Arcangelo, 2020. "COVID-19, Race, and Redlining," GLO Discussion Paper Series 603, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    7. 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.
    8. Peter Zhixian Lin & Christopher M. Meissner, 2020. "A Note on Long-Run Persistence of Public Health Outcomes in Pandemics," NBER Working Papers 27119, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Rahmiye Figen Ceylan & Burhan Ozkan & Esra Mulazimogullari, 2020. "Historical evidence for economic effects of COVID-19," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 21(6), pages 817-823, August.
    10. Aksoy Cevat Giray & Antonio Cabrales & Mathias Dolls & Windsteiger Lisa, 2020. "COVID-19, Trust and Solidarity in the EU," EconPol Policy Reports 27, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    11. Gianmarco Daniele & Andrea F.M. Martinangeli & Francesco Passarelli & Willem Sas & Lisa Windsteiger, 2020. "Wind of Change? Experimental Survey Evidence on the Covid-19 Shock and Socio-Political Attitudes in Europe," CESifo Working Paper Series 8517, CESifo.
    12. Brian Beach & Karen Clay & Martin Saavedra, 2020. "The 1918 Influenza Pandemic and its Lessons for COVID-19," Working Papers 2020-15, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    13. Digialleonardo, Luca & Mare, Mauro & Motroni, Antonello & Porcelli, Francesco, 2021. "Family Ties and the Pandemic: Some Evidence from Sars-CoV-2," MPRA Paper 106735, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Guillaume Chapelle, 2020. "The medium-term impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions. The case of the 1918 influenza in US cities," Sciences Po publications 112, Sciences Po.
    15. Rahmiye Figen Ceylan & Burhan Ozkan & Esra Mulazimogullari, 0. "Historical evidence for economic effects of COVID-19," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 0, pages 1-7.
    16. Brian Beach & Karen Clay & Martin H. Saavedra, 2020. "The 1918 Influenza Pandemic and its Lessons for COVID-19," NBER Working Papers 27673, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    More about this item

    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

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