Quotation Boberg-Fazlic, Nina, Lampe, Markus, Pedersen, Maja Uhre, Sharp, Paul. 2020. Pandemics and Protectionism: Evidence from the “Spanish” flu. CAGE Working Paper 479/2020.




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 on data for Europe and find that excess deaths had a significant impact on trade policy, independent of the war. 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.


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Status of publication Published
Affiliation WU
Type of publication Working/discussion paper, preprint
Language English
Title Pandemics and Protectionism: Evidence from the “Spanish” flu
Title of whole publication CAGE Working Paper 479/2020
Year 2020
URL https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/research/centres/cage/manage/publications/wp479.2020.pdf
JEL F13, I19, N74


Lampe, Markus (Details)
Boberg-Fazlic, Nina (University of Southern Denmark, Denmark)
Pedersen, Maja Uhre (University of Southern Denmark, Denmark)
Sharp, Paul (University of Southern Denmark, Denmark)
Institute for Economic and Social History IN (Details)
Research areas (ÖSTAT Classification 'Statistik Austria')
5340 Economic history (Details)
6521 Economic history (Details)
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