COVID-19 and Development: Lessons from Historical Pandemics

Journal of Chinese Economic and Business Studies, Forthcoming

15 Pages Posted: 1 Dec 2020

See all articles by Wenxuan Hou

Wenxuan Hou

University of Edinburgh - Business School; Shanghai Lixin University of Accounting and Finance

Xianda Liu

University of Edinburgh, Business School

Brian G. M. Main

University of Edinburgh

Date Written: November 30, 2020

Abstract

Disease does not only affect development through its contemporaneous impact on health, but also through its enduring historical effect through its shaping of culture and institutions. By drawing on the experience of historical pandemics, we argue that some of the current stringent approaches adopted in combating COVID-19 come at the expense of social capital (trust) and institutions (checks on government power), which hold back long-run development. We review the evidence that the Black Death intensified witchcraft beliefs and antisemitism, which, in turn, developed mistrust and exerted an adverse influence on present-day development. Finally, we demonstrate that institutions and culture have greater explanatory power in terms of cross-country infection rates and fatality rates than does health care quality.

Keywords: COVID-19; disease; institutions; plague; pandemic; social capital; xenophobia

JEL Classification: G00; N00; O10

Suggested Citation

Hou, Wenxuan and Liu, Xianda and Main, Brian G. M., COVID-19 and Development: Lessons from Historical Pandemics (November 30, 2020). Journal of Chinese Economic and Business Studies, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3739709 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3739709

Wenxuan Hou (Contact Author)

University of Edinburgh - Business School ( email )

University of Edinburgh
29 Buccleuch Place
Edinburgh, Scotland EH8 9JS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.wenxuanhou.com

Shanghai Lixin University of Accounting and Finance ( email )

Xianda Liu

University of Edinburgh, Business School ( email )

Edinburgh
United Kingdom

Brian G. M. Main

University of Edinburgh ( email )

50 George Square
Edinburgh, Scotland EH8 9JY
United Kingdom
(44)-131-650-8360 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://homepages.ed.ac.uk/mainbg/

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