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Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions and Mortality in U.S. Cities during the Great Influenza Pandemic, 1918-1919

Robert J. Barro

NBER Working Paper No. 27049
Issued in April 2020, Revised in May 2020
NBER Program(s):Economic Fluctuations and Growth, Health Economics, Public Economics

Non-pharmaceutical public-health interventions (NPIs) were measured by Markel, et al. (2007) for U.S. cities during the second wave of the Great Influenza Pandemic, September 1918-February 1919. The NPIs are in three categories: school closings, prohibitions on public gatherings, and quarantine/isolation. Although an increase in NPIs flattened the curve in the sense of reducing the ratio of peak to average deaths, the estimated effect on overall deaths is small and statistically insignificant. The likely reason that the NPIs were not more successful in curtailing mortality is that the interventions had an average duration of only around one month.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w27049

 
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