Social Repercussions of Pandemics

25 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2021

See all articles by Philip Barrett

Philip Barrett

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Sophia Chen

International Monetary Fund (IMF) - Research Department

Date Written: January 1, 2021


Epidemics may have social scarring effects, increasing the likelihood of social unrest. They may also have mitigating effect, suppressing unrest by dissuading social activities. Using a new monthly panel on social unrest in 130 countries, we find a positive cross-sectional relationship between social unrest and epidemics. But the relationship reverses in the short run, implying that the mitigating effect dominates in the short run. Recent trends in social unrest immediately before and after the COVID-19 outbreak are consistent with this historic evidence. It is reasonable to expect that, as the pandemic fades, unrest may reemerge in locations where it previously existed.

JEL Classification: N40, I12, Q54, I10, D31

Suggested Citation

Barrett, Philip and Chen, Sophia, Social Repercussions of Pandemics (January 1, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Philip Barrett (Contact Author)

International Monetary Fund (IMF) ( email )

700 19th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20431
United States

Sophia Chen

International Monetary Fund (IMF) - Research Department ( email )

700 19th Street NW
Washington, DC 20431
United States

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