Sergi Basco, Jordi Domènech, Joan R. Rosés: Unequal Mortality during the Spanish Flu, in The London School of Economics and Poltical Science, Economic History Department, Economic History Working Papers No. 325 (February 2021).
The outburst of deaths and cases of Covid-19 around the world has renewed the interest to understand the mortality effects of pandemics across regions, occupations, age and gender. According to the authors the “Spanish Flu” is the closest pandemic to Covid-19. Mortality rates in Spain were among the largest in today’s developed countries. The research of the authors documents a substantial heterogeneity on mortality rates across occupations. The highest mortality was on low-income workers. The authors also recorded a rural mortality penalty that reversed the historical urban penalty temporally. The higher capacity of certain social groups to isolate themselves from social contact could explain these mortality differentials. However, adjusting mortality evidence by these two factors, there were still large mortality inter-provincial differences for the same occupation and location, suggesting the existence of a regional component in rates of flu contagion possibly related to climatic differences.