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The long-term consequences of the global 1918 influenza pandemic: A systematic analysis of 117 IPUMS international census data sets

Author

Listed:
  • Sebastian Vollmer

    () (Goerg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany)

  • Juditha Wójcik

    () (Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, Germany)

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," Working Papers 1721, Gutenberg School of Management and Economics, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz.
  • Handle: RePEc:jgu:wpaper:1721
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    File URL: https://download.uni-mainz.de/RePEc/pdf/Discussion_Paper_1720.pdf
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    RePEc Biblio mentions

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

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    Cited by:

    1. Gabriella Conti & Giacomo Mason & Stavros Poupakis, 2019. "Developmental Origins of Health Inequality," Working Papers 2019-041, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    2. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Spanish Flu; 1918 Influenza Pandemic; Fetal Origins Hypothesis;

    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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