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Pandemics and Local Economic Growth: Evidence from the Great Influenza in Italy



We investigate the link between the 1918 Great Influenza and regional economic growth in Italy, a country in which the measures implemented by public authorities to contain the contagion were limited or ineffective. The pandemic caused about 600,000 deaths in Italy, a death rate of about 1.2%. We find evidence of a strong and significant adverse effect of the pandemic on regional growth. In particular, going from regions with the lowest mortality to those with the highest mortality is associated to a decline in per capita GDP growth of about 6.5%, which dissipated within three years. In line with this finding, we also estimate a small and transitory negative effect of the influenza on industrialization. Our estimates provide an upper bound of the adverse effect of pandemics on local economic growth in the absence of non-pharmaceutical public-health interventions.

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  • Mario F. Carillo & Tullio Jappelli, 2020. "Pandemics and Local Economic Growth: Evidence from the Great Influenza in Italy," CSEF Working Papers 568, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  • Handle: RePEc:sef:csefwp:568

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    1. Arnstein Aassve & Guido Alfani & Francesco Gandolfi & Marco Le Moglie, 2021. "Epidemics and trust: The case of the Spanish Flu," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(4), pages 840-857, April.
    2. De Santis, Roberto A. & Van der Veken, Wouter, 2020. "Macroeconomic risks across the globe due to the Spanish Flu," Working Paper Series 2466, European Central Bank.
    3. Eric Bonetto & Guillaume Dezecache & Armelle Nugier & Marion Inigo & Jean-Denis Mathias & Sylvie Huet & Nicolas Pellerin & Maya Corman & Pierre Bertrand & Eric Raufaste & Michel Streith & Serge Guimon, 2021. "Basic human values during the COVID-19 outbreak, perceived threat and their relationships with compliance with movement restrictions and social distancing," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 16(6), pages 1-15, June.
    4. 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.
    5. Colvin, Christopher L. & McLaughlin, Eoin, 2020. "Death, demography and the denominator: New Influenza-18 mortality estimates for Ireland," SRERC Working Paper Series SRERCWP2020-2, University College Cork (UCC), Spatial and Regional Economic Research Centre (SRERC).
    6. Franke, Richard, 2021. "Poverty, pollution, and mortality: The 1918 influenza pandemic in a developing German economy," MPRA Paper 107570, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Michael König & Adalbert Winkler, 2021. "COVID-19: Lockdowns, Fatality Rates and GDP Growth," Intereconomics: Review of European Economic Policy, Springer;ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics;Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), vol. 56(1), pages 32-39, January.
    8. 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.
    9. Wim Naudé & Ricardo Vinuesa, 2020. "Data, global development, and COVID-19: Lessons and consequences," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2020-109, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    10. Khemraj, Tarron & Yu, Sherry, 2020. "Human capital and the COVID-19 pandemic," MPRA Paper 101262, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Giacomo Caracciolo & Salvatore Lo Bello & Dario Pellegrino, 2021. "An assessment on the potential impact of COVID-19 on the Italian demographic structure," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 622, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    12. Noy, Ilan & Uher, Tomáš, 2021. "Economic consequences of pre-COVID-19 epidemics: A literature review," Working Paper Series 9457, Victoria University of Wellington, School of Economics and Finance.

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    Great Influenza; regional growth; mortality and growth;
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