Staff Reports
Pandemics Change Cities: Municipal Spending and Voter Extremism in Germany, 1918-1933
Number 921
May 2020

JEL classification: H3, H4, I15, N14

Authors: Kristian S. Blickle

We merge several historical data sets from Germany to show that influenza mortality in 1918-1920 is correlated with societal changes, as measured by municipal spending and city-level extremist voting, in the subsequent decade. First, influenza deaths are associated with lower per capita spending, especially on services consumed by the young. Second, influenza deaths are correlated with the share of votes received by extremist parties in 1932 and 1933. Our election results are robust to controlling for city spending, demographics, war-related population changes, city-level wages, and regional unemployment, and to instrumenting influenza mortality. We conjecture that our findings may be the consequence of long-term societal changes brought about by a pandemic.

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AUTHOR DISCLOSURE STATEMENT(S)
Kristian Blickle
The author declares that he has no relevant or material financial interests that relate to the research described in this paper. Prior to circulation, this paper was reviewed in accordance with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York review policy, available at https://www.newyorkfed.org/research/staff_reports/index.html.