New York Fed Paper Finds Pandemic a Century Ago Fueled Nazi Rise

Read the paper here.

Read the news story about the paper from The Wall Street Journal, here.

Some quotes from the WSJ:

The paper, written by bank economist Kristian Blickle, examined how the German political system reacted to the influenza pandemic that struck the world between 1918 and 1920.

Those events have been back in the world’s consciousness as nations attempt to navigate the coronavirus crisis. The current crisis has resulted in large death tolls, profound economic dislocations and great political uncertainty, at a time when many nations have seen the rise of nationalist political movements that seek to reverse decades of economic and political international linkages.

A century ago, “influenza deaths themselves had a strong effect on the share of votes won by extremists, specifically the extremist national socialist party,” the paper said in reference to the Nazi party, led by Adolf Hitler, who became chancellor of Germany in 1933.

“This effect dominates many other effects and is persistent even when we control for the influences of local unemployment, city spending, population changes brought about by the war, and local demographics or when we instrument for influenza mortality,” Mr. Blickle wrote.

The changed voting patterns specifically appeared to boost Nazis over other movements, the paper said. “The same patterns were not observable for the votes won by other extremist parties, such as the communists.”

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