NBER

Robert J. Barro, José F. Ursúa, Joanna Weng

Bibliographic Information

NBER Working Paper No. 26866
Issued in March 2020, Revised in April 2020
NBER Program(s):EFG, HE, ME

A non-technical summary of this paper is available in the May 2020 NBER Digest.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Digest by email.

This paper was revised on April 28, 2020

Available Formats

Abstract

Mortality and economic contraction during the 1918-1920 Great Influenza Pandemic provide plausible upper bounds for outcomes under the coronavirus (COVID-19). Data for 48 countries imply flu-related deaths in 1918-1920 of 40 million, 2.1 percent of world population, implying 150 million deaths when applied to current population. Regressions with annual information on flu deaths 1918-1920 and war deaths during WWI imply flu-generated economic declines for GDP and consumption in the typical country of 6 and 8 percent, respectively. There is also some evidence that higher flu death rates decreased realized real returns on stocks and, especially, on short-term government bills.

National Bureau of Economic Research
1050 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02138
617-868-3900
info@nber.org

Twitter RSS

View Full Site: One timeAlways