How Economists Ignored the Spanish Flu Pandemic in 1918–20
Center for the History of Political Economy at Duke University Working Paper Series, 2021
35 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2021 Last revised: 3 May 2021
Date Written: February 11, 2021
The current COVID-19 pandemic has attracted significant attention from epidemiologists and economists alike. This differs from the 1918-19 Spanish Influenza pandemic, when academic economists hardly paid attention to its economic features, despite its very high mortality toll. We examine the reasons for that, by contrasting the ways epidemiologists and economists reacted to the Spanish Flu at the time and retrospectively within the next 25 years or so.
Keywords: Spanish Influenza, economists, business cycles, epidemiologists, labour supply
JEL Classification: B19, B49, I19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation