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Visual #7: Student Handout Clues


1. Studies of the economies of Europe after the Black Death have revealed evidence of increasing real wages in agriculture and rising incomes for craftsmen. Economic historian, Jack Hirshleifer: “That per capita income of the lower classes . . . tended to rise is evidenced by innumerable reports of individuals of lower status stepping up to fill vacant places, [and] of remissions and recontracts of feudal dues.”

In eastern England wage increases due to the Black Plague were approximately 32% for the threshing of wheat, 38% for barley, and 11% for oats.

2. 25 million people died in just under five years between 1347 and 1352. Estimated population of Europe from 1200 to 1352.

  • 1200 59 million
  • 1300 70 million
  • 1347 75 million
  • 1352 50 million

3. As a result of the Black Death, “Whole villages were depopulated, marginal land returned to scrub and pasture, the value of land plummeted, the marginal cost of agricultural production declined, and food supplies became more plentiful. The apparatus that had tied the serf to his lord’s manor was gravely weakened, and many feudal holdings were broken up . . . . Surviving tenants had the choice between taking on additional leases and moving away. . . . [Some migrated] to jobs in other villages and in the towns, where labor shortages expanded employment opportunities.” (Bell, 13)

4. England

Date 1086 1300 1470 1526
Population 2.25 m 5 m 2.3 m 2.3 m
Estimated GDP £0.4m £4.66m £3.5m £5m

The Wealth of Medieval England by Nicholas Mayhew http://lamop.univ-paris1.fr/W3/richesses/NickMayhew.pdf

5. Spanish Flu, 1918-19: In Philadelphia, 158 out of every 1000 people died; 148 out of 1000 in Baltimore; 109 out of 1000 in Washington, D. C. The good news (if there was any) was that the disease peaked within two to three weeks after showing up in a given city. It left as quickly as it arrived. Sixty percent of the Eskimo population was wiped out in Nome, Alaska. Eighty -90% of the Samoan population was infected, many of the survivors dying from starvation because they lacked the energy to feed themselves. Luxury ocean liners from Europe would arrive in New York with 7% fewer passengers than they embarked with.

6. Mortality estimates for the Spanish Flu range from 20 – 40 million deaths worldwide and 675,000 deaths (550,000 considered “excess deaths” beyond normal mortality) in the U.S.

Year U.S. Nominal GDP (billions of dollars) U.S. Population (in thousands) U.S. Real GDP per Capita (2000 dollars)
1916 $49.6 101961 $5626
1917 $59.7 103268 $5418
1918 $75.8 103208 $5910
1919 $78.3 104514 $5883
1920 $88.4 106461 $5721

7. August 1918 – March 1919, the height of the Spanish Flu pandemic in the United States, was also a downturn in the economy, associated with falling production and business failure.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that if the U.S. today experienced a pandemic similar to the Spanish Flu of 1918-19, gross domestic product (GDP) would fall by 5%.

8. The Center for Policy Research (CEPR) 2003 analysis of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic concludes that “Controlling for numerous factors . . . the results indicate a . . . positive effect of the influenza epidemic on per capita income growth across states during the 1920s.”

9. J.P. Morgan senior economist Anthony Chan: “Preliminary estimates indicate 60 percent damage to downtown New Orleans. Plenty of cleanup work and rebuilding will follow in all the areas. That means over the next 12 months, there will be lots of job creation, which is good for the economy.”

Professor Doug Woodward, University of South Carolina: [“Looking] at the economic impact, our research shows that hurricanes tend to become God-given work projects.” Within six months, Woodward “expects to see a construction boom and job creation offset the short-term negatives such as loss of business activity, loss of wealth in the form of housing, infrastructure, agriculture and tourism revenue in the Gulf Coast states.” http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4188/is_20050907/ai_n15325928

10. Estimates:

Property damage from Hurricane Katrina: >$81 billion.

Deaths: >1600

People displaced: >1 million

People affected: >9 million

Year U.S., Nominal GDP (billions of dollars) U.S. Real GDP (billions of 2000 dollars) Population (in thousands) Real GDP per Capita (2000 dollars)
2004 $11685.9 $10675.8 293638 $36357
2005 $12433.9 $11003.4 296507 $37110
2006 $13194.7 $11319.4 299398 $37807