The Long-Term Consequences of the Global 1918 Influenza Pandemic: A Systematic Analysis of 117 IPUMS International Census Data Sets

84 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2017

See all articles by Sebastian Vollmer

Sebastian Vollmer

University of Goettingen (Gottingen)

Juditha Wójcik

University of Mainz, Gutenberg School of Economics and Management

Date Written: December 6, 2017

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.

Keywords: Spanish Flu, 1918 Influenza Pandemic, Fetal Origins Hypothesis

JEL Classification: I15, N30, O57

Suggested Citation

Vollmer, Sebastian and Wójcik, Juditha, The Long-Term Consequences of the Global 1918 Influenza Pandemic: A Systematic Analysis of 117 IPUMS International Census Data Sets (December 6, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3083584 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3083584

Sebastian Vollmer (Contact Author)

University of Goettingen (Gottingen) ( email )

Platz der Göttinger Sieben 3
Göttingen, 37073
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://sebastianvollmer.wordpress.com/

Juditha Wójcik

University of Mainz, Gutenberg School of Economics and Management ( email )

Lehrstuhl für Statistik und Ökonometrie
Jakob Welder-Weg 4
Mainz, DE-55118
Germany
+49 (0) 6131 / 39 - 22551 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.econometrics.economics.uni-mainz.de/433.php

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