Next PANSOC webinar

Please join us October 28 at 1600 CET for the next PANSOC webinar. Contact if you need a Zoom link.

Hampton Gaddy, University of Oxford, will present: “Re-estimating the global and national death tolls of the 1918-20 pandemic: Updating Johnson and Mueller (2002).”

The last two decades have seen the study of the 1918-20 influenza pandemic emerge as a field in its own right; the quantitative and qualitative description of most aspects of the pandemic have improved greatly in their depth and rigour. However, there has been little organised progress towards refining the available estimates of how many deaths the pandemic caused on global, regional, and national levels since the often-cited work of Johnson and Mueller (2002). In this paper, I perform an extensive literature review to chart the progress of the last twenty years in this area, and in doing so, I propose new consensus estimates of the pandemic’s death toll within more than 140 national borders. From those estimates, I produce three main results. First, I suggest that the pandemic killed 45 to 60 million people globally. This estimate equates to 2.4% to 3.2% of the world population at the time and is the narrowest well-founded global estimate to date. Second, I note the main geographical and contextual gaps in the field’s understanding of the pandemic’s mortality on the national level. In particular, I point out the lack of research on indigenous and military populations, as well as Eastern Europe, China, the Middle East, North Africa, East Africa, and Southeast Asia. Third, I use my revised national mortality estimates to demonstrate that several high-profile findings about the pandemic, its global correlates, and its global effects are poorly founded.

Hampton Gaddy is an MPhil Candidate in Sociology and Demography at the University of Oxford. His work on this topic was awarded the Oxford Institute of Human Sciences’ 2021 Wilma Crowther Prize for best BA dissertation.

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