Estimates of worldwide mortality from the influenza pandemic of 1918–1919 vary widely, from 15 million to 100 million. In terms of loss of life, India was the focal point of this profound demographic event. In this article, we calculate mortality from the influenza pandemic in India using panel data models and data from the Census of India. The new estimates suggest that for the districts included in the sample, mortality was at most 13.88 million, compared with 17.21 million when calculated using the assumptions of Davis (1951). We conclude that Davis’ influential estimate of mortality from influenza in British India is overstated by at least 24%. Future analyses of the effects of the pandemic on demographic change in India and worldwide will need to account for this significant downward revision.
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This research was made possible by Grant No. 1R21DA025917-01A1 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) of the National Institutes of Health. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of NIDA. The authors would also like to thank participants of the XXXIII Annual Conference of the Indian Association for the Study of Population (IASP) held in Lucknow, India, in 2011, for their input.
Appendix 1: List of Districts Used in the Analysis (colonial spellings)
|Bankura||Dehra Dun||Hoshiarpur||Manbhum||Rae Bareli||Tinnevelly|
|BaraBanki||Dera Ghazi Khan||Howrah||Mandla||Raipur||Tippera|
|Belgaum||Drug||Jalpaiguri||Midnapore||Ranchi||Upper Sind Frontier|
|Broach and Panch Mahals||Ganjam||Kamrup||Muzaffarnagar||Saran|
Appendix 2: Details of Random-Coefficients Models
As discussed previously, the general model estimated is
where i and t index districts and time in years. The coefficient estimates π 0i , π 1i , π 2i , and π 3i are defined as
where it is assumed that
The coefficients are modeled as varying randomly across districts, and the estimates reported in Table 1 are the mean coefficients across all districts. Details of these models are provided in SAS (2011b).
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Chandra, S., Kuljanin, G. & Wray, J. Mortality From the Influenza Pandemic of 1918–1919: The Case of India. Demography 49, 857–865 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13524-012-0116-x
- Population loss