Publication Date

5-12-2020

Series

Policy Paper No. 2020-022

DOI

10.17848/pol2020-022

Abstract

Economists and policymakers have turned to the 1918 Spanish flu for guidance on the COVID-19 crisis, and some have been cheered by the example of its sharp post-pandemic economic recovery. Policymakers have also been encouraged to use lockdowns and school closures (called non-pharmaceutical interventions, or NPIs) in part by research showing that 1918’s NPIs saved lives while aiding the subsequent economic recovery. I review a wide range of research to caution that our own recovery will likely be harder and slower because of how the economy has evolved. I conclude by discussing pro-recovery policy that account for post-1918 economic changes.

Issue Date

May 2020

Subject Areas

LABOR MARKET ISSUES

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Citation

Asquith, Brian J. 2020. "What Can We Learn from the 1918 Pandemic? Careful Economics and Policy Lessons from Influenza." Policy Paper No. 2020-022. Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. https://doi.org/10.17848/pol2020-022