The Political Scar of Epidemics

98 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2020

See all articles by Cevat Giray Aksoy

Cevat Giray Aksoy

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; King’s College London; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Barry Eichengreen

University of California, Berkeley; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Orkun Saka

University of Sussex; London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Date Written: June 2020

Abstract

What political legacy can we expect from the Coronavirus pandemic? Drawing evidence from past epidemics, we find that epidemic exposure in an individual’s “impressionable years” (ages 18 to 25) has a persistent negative effect on confidence in political institutions and leaders, but not in other institutions or individuals. We find similar negative effects on confidence in public health systems however, suggesting that the loss of confidence in political institutions and leaders is associated with healthcare-related policies. In line with this argument, our results are mostly driven by individuals who experienced epidemics under weak governments with less capacity to act against the epidemic, disappointing their citizens. We provide evidence of this mechanism by showing that weak governments took longer to introduce policy interventions in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. These results imply that the Coronavirus may leave behind a long-lasting political scar on the current young generation (“Generation Z”).

Suggested Citation

Aksoy, Cevat Giray and Eichengreen, Barry and Saka, Orkun, The Political Scar of Epidemics (June 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w27401, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3632628

Cevat Giray Aksoy (Contact Author)

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development ( email )

One Exchange Square
London EC2A 2JN
United Kingdom

King’s College London ( email )

Aldwych
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Barry Eichengreen

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Orkun Saka

University of Sussex ( email )

Sussex House
Falmer
Brighton, Sussex BNI 9RH
United Kingdom

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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