The Impact of the 1918 Spanish Flu Epidemic on Economic Performance in Sweden

Reprint No. 2014:35

Author(s): Martin Karlsson, Therese Nilsson and Stefan PichlerYear: 2014 Title: Journal of Health Economics Volume (No.): 36 (July) Pages: 1–9
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Preliminary version

We study the impact of the 1918 influenza pandemic on short- and medium-term economic performancein Sweden. The pandemic was one of the severest and deadliest pandemics in human history, but it hashitherto received only scant attention in the economic literature – despite representing an unparalleledlabour supply shock. In this paper, we exploit seemingly exogenous variation in incidence rates betweenSwedish regions to estimate the impact of the pandemic. The pandemic led to a significant increase inpoorhouse rates. There is also evidence that capital returns were negatively affected by the pandemic.However, contrary to predictions, we find no discernible effect on earnings.

Karlsson, Martin, Therese Nilsson and Stefan Pichler (2014), "The Impact of the 1918 Spanish Flu Epidemic on Economic Performance in Sweden". Journal of Health Economics 36(July), 1–9.

Therese Nilsson


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Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden face similar problems of integrating large groups of immigrants, especially low-educated ones from outside the EU, into their labour markets. In this volume, edited by Lars Calmfors, IFN, and Nora Sánchez Gassen in cooperation with researchers from across the Nordic Region analyse how labour market integration of immigrants can be promoted. 

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