We don’t need no Education? The long-run Effects of School Closures during the 1918-19 Influenza Pandemic

Martin Karlsson (University of Duisburg-Essen)

A substantial body of evidence examines the effects of pandemics on mortality and the economy in the short and medium run. However, little evidence exists with respect to specific policies that aim to limit the  spread of the disease, and in particular their long-run effects. Our paper addresses this gap and examines the long-run effects of school closures during the Spanish Flu of 1918 on human capital development. We use Swedish register data on the universe of individuals born between 1900 and 1914, and we observe their human capital outcomes at the 1960 and 1970 census. To examine the mortality effects of the pandemic, we use the universe of all deaths occuring between 1914 and 1921. We merge self-collected data on school closures to the data. We will exploit the staggered introduction of school closures within an event-study design to estimate the effect of school closures on individual's long-run human capital development.