The 1918 Flu and COVID-19 Pandemics: Different Patients, Different Economy
Abstract: Many observers seeking historical precedent for COVID-19 draw on the 1918 influenza pandemic. In this Commentary, we highlight the differences between the 1918 flu and COVID-19 pandemics in terms of the most significantly affected populations. We also show key differences in the US economy in the late 1910s and now. Not only did the 1918 influenza virus primarily affect significantly younger cohorts, but the US economy’s industry and geographic distributions were notably different at the time compared to today’s. Consequently, caution is needed when using the 1918 influenza pandemic as a guideline for implementing and evaluating policy responses to COVID-19.
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Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
Part of Series: Economic Commentary
Publication Date: 2020-06-22