The Political Effects of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic in Weimar Germany

Research on Monday
St. Louis Red Cross Motor Corps on duty during influenza epidemic (1918)
Speaker
Stefan Bauernschuster
Date
Monday 26 Feb 2024, 11:30 - 12:30
Type
Seminar
Room
2-18
Building
Polak Building
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St. Louis Red Cross Motor Corps on duty during influenza epidemic (1918)
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How do health crises affect election results? We combine a panel of election results from 1893–1933 with spatial heterogeneity in excess mortality due to the 1918 Influenza to assess the pandemic’s effect on voting behavior across German constituencies. 

(with Matthias Blum, Erik Hornung and Christoph Koenig)

Applying a dynamic differences-in-differences approach, we find that areas with higher influenza mortality saw a lasting shift towards left-wing parties. We argue that pandemic intensity increased the salience of public health policy, prompting voters to reward parties signaling competence in health issues. Alternative explanations such as pandemic-induced economic hardship, punishment of incumbents, or political polarization are not supported by our findings.

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