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

See all articles by Jan Dul

Jan Dul

Erasmus University, Rotterdam School of Management

Marno Verbeek

Erasmus University - Rotterdam School of Management; Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM); Netspar

Date Written: May 15, 2020

Abstract

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

Dul, Jan and Verbeek, Marno, Are Strict Social Distancing Policies Necessary for Economic Recovery after a Pandemic? A Re-Analysis of the 1918 Flu Pandemic (May 15, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3601901 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3601901

Jan Dul (Contact Author)

Erasmus University, Rotterdam School of Management ( email )

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University
P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands
+31 10 408 1719 (Phone)
+31 10 408 9014 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.rsm.nl/jdul

Marno Verbeek

Erasmus University - Rotterdam School of Management ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
Room T09-53
3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands
+31 10 408 2790 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.rsm.nl/mverbeek

Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM)

P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands

Netspar

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands

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