Are Strict Social Distancing Policies Necessary for Economic Recovery after a Pandemic? A Re-Analysis of the 1918 Flu Pandemic
12 Pages Posted: 18 May 2020
Date Written: May 15, 2020
Pandemics harm the economy. Governments use social distancing and other non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI) to tackle the pandemic. Recent data from the 1918 influenza pandemic ('Spanish Flu') suggest that a strict NPI policy on average not only reduces mortality but is also helpful to recover the economy after the pandemic. Using Necessary Condition Analysis (NCA) we show that a strict policy is necessary for high economic performance. Specifically, we find that for high economic performance NPI policies must be implemented rapidly and must be intense, otherwise they fail to recover the economy. The potential lessons for the COVID-19 pandemic are discussed. The results also provide a reflection on the current societal call for quickly abandoning the imposed strict social distancing measures.
Keywords: pandemic, Spanish flu, non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI), COVID-19, Necessary Condition Analysis (NCA), social distancing, economic performance
JEL Classification: I18, I10, H12, C12, C18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation