Are non-pharmaceutical interventions effective? The Japanese textile sector during the influenza pandemic of 1918-1920

Crawford School of Public Policy | Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis
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ACDE Seminar

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Tuesday 29 September 2020


Online via Zoom


Ilan Noy, Victoria University of Wellington

Surprisingly, during the past century there has not been much research on the economics of the 1918-1920 influenza pandemic. This paper focuses on Japan, as it was not a major participant in the First World War, so that the War had a more minor impact on Japan’s economy. We exploit the diversity of experiences with the pandemic and its attendant policy responses across prefectures to investigate the importance of non-pharmaceutical policy interventions (NPIs) in determining the economic impact of the pandemic, focusing on production and employment in the textiles sector. We investigate the role of NPIs in ameliorating the economic costs of the pandemic, and indeed find that the NPIs were effective in ameliorating these consequences rather than worsening them by creating panic. In this case, there was no trade-off between money and health: rather, the two were complementary.

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