Pandemic-onomics: Lessons From The Spanish Flu : The Indicator from Planet Money Different cities responded in different ways to the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918. And their economies fared differently as a result.

Pandemic-onomics: Lessons From The Spanish Flu

Pandemic-onomics: Lessons From The Spanish Flu

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Underwood Archives/Getty Images
The St Louis Red Cross Motor Corps on duty at the backs of ambulances during the Influenza epidemic, St Louis, Missouri, October 1918. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
Underwood Archives/Getty Images

There's a big debate going on in the U.S. and around the world about the extent to which cities, states and countries should shut down in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, or tough it out. A question foremost in people's minds: What's worse for the economy?

The Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918 offers some pointers. Here in the U.S., different cities reacted in radically different ways, with some shutting down completely, and others staying open for business throughout. And with the advantage of hindsight, we can see what the long-term effects on those individual economies were.

Today we talk with Emil Verner, an assistant professor of finance at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He's the co-author, along with Sergio Correia and Stefan Luck, of a new working paper that looks at the economic effects of social distancing measures on American cities during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic.

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