Pandemics and protectionism: evidence from the "Spanish" flu

Boberg-Fazlic, Nina and Lampe, Markus ORCID: and Pedersen, Maja Uhre and Sharp, Paul (2021) Pandemics and protectionism: evidence from the "Spanish" flu. Palgrave Communications, 8 (145). pp. 1-9. ISSN 2055-1045

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The impact of COVID-19 on recent tendencies towards international isolationism has been much speculated on but remains to be seen. We suggest that valuable evidence can be gleaned from the “Spanish” flu of 1918–20. It is well-known that the world fell into a protectionist spiral following the First World War, but scholars have almost exclusively ignored the impact of the pandemic. We employ a difference-in-differences strategy and find that the flu had a significant impact on trade policy, independent of the war. In our preferred specification, a one standard deviation increase in excess deaths during the outbreak implied 0.022 percentage points higher tariffs subsequently, corresponding to an increase of one third of a standard deviation in tariffs. Health policy should aim to avoid the experience of the interwar period and consider the international macroeconomic impact of measures (not) taken.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Economics, History
Divisions: Departments > Sozioökonomie > Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte
Forschungsinstitute > Raum- und Immobilienwirtschaft
Version of the Document: Published
Depositing User: Gertraud Novotny
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2021 09:50
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2021 09:50
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