In this paper we analyze the dynamics among past major pandemics, economic growth, inequality, and social unrest. We provide evidence that past major pandemics, even though much smaller in scale than COVID-19, have led to a significant increase in social unrest by reducing output and increasing inequality. We also find that higher social unrest, in turn, is associated with lower ourput and higher inequality, pointing to a vicious cycle. Our results suggest that without policy measures, the COVID-19 pandemic will likely increase inequality, trigger social unrest, and lower future output in the years to come.
Should a closed economy open its trade to all countries or limit itself to participation in regional trade agreements (RTAs)? Based on time-series evidence for a data set for 1950-92, this paper estimates and compares the growth performance of countries that liberalized broadly and those that joined an RTA. The comparisons show that economies grew faster after broad liberalization, both in the short and long run, but slower after participation in an RTA. Economies also had higher investment shares after broad liberalization, but lower ones after joining an RTA. The policy implications support broad liberalization.