Spanish Influenza in Spain: Reexamining Strength and Timing Differences Across Space

Laura Cilek , Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales (CCHS-CSIC)
Gerardo Chowell, Georgia State University
Beatriz Echeverri Davila, Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Diego Ramiro-Fariñas, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

Even 100 years after the Spanish Flu, demographers and epidemiologists still struggle to disentangle the role acquired immunity and sociodemographic differences played in the pandemic’s unique mortality patterns. We use newly digitized sources of daily cause-specific death counts for 49 provinces and their capitals in Spain in coordination with additional socioeconomic variables to examine how these factors relate to the timing and strength of consecutive waves of Spanish influenza in Spain in 1918 and 1919. We first estimate piecewise linear breakpoints from a linear regression model that indicates the start, peak, and ending dates, as well as the initial strength (can be inferred as the Reproduction number) of each wave. Additional tests compare differences both within and between geographies using socioeconomic, demographic, and climatic variables. The results attempt to better understand the determinants of increased mortality risk during and between waves of the Spanish flu.

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 Presented in Session 11. Health & Mortality 2