For the fourth Pandemics & Society Seminar of our Fall 2023 series, we are pleased to welcome Professor Erik Hornung (University of Cologne). The seminar will be held on Thursday, 21 September at the normal time (1600 CEST). More information about our speaker and the presentation is below. You can sign up for email notifications about the seminar series, including the Zoom details, here.
Abstract (Working paper)
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. 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 for inadequate policy responses, or polarization of the electorate towards more extremist parties are not supported by our findings.
About the Speaker
Erik Hornung is Professor of Economic History at the University of Cologne, a Research Fellow of the CESifo and CAGE, and a Research Affiliate of the CEPR. He is also Associate Editor of The Economic Journal and a member of the Editorial Boards of The Journal of Economic History and Explorations in Economic History. His research focuses on economic history and long-run development, particularly through analysis of historically important events that determine differences in development over time and space.