Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 26, 2020

COVID-19 and the Potential Consequences for Social Stability

Roberto Censolo and Massimo Morelli

Abstract

Epidemics create risks of social unrest. The great plagues of the past show that social tensions, accumulated over the epidemic and before, often erupted in serious uprisings in the years after the epidemic. Based on historical evidence, we predict that the protests inherited from the pre-COVID-19 period should be crowded out by epidemic-related unrest as long as the epidemic lasts, whereas in the aftermath of the epidemic we should expect the unresolved pre-epidemic grievances to resume even stronger, boosted also by the incremental social grievances related to the epidemic period. While the epidemic lasts, the status quo and incumbent governments tend to consolidate, but a sharp increase in social instability in the aftermath of the epidemic should be expected.

JEL Classification: D74; N90

Corresponding author: Roberto Censolo, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy, E-mail:

References

Brecke, P. 1999. “Violent Conflicts 1400 A.D. To the Present in Different Regions of the World.” In Paper prepared for the 1999 Meeting of the Peace Science Society, Ann Arbor, MI, 8–10 October 1999. Search in Google Scholar

Hays, J. N. 2005. Epidemics and Pandemics: Their Impacts on Human History. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO. Search in Google Scholar

Jung, J., J. Manley, and V. Shrestha. 2020. Coronavirus Infections and Deaths by Poverty Status: Time Trends and Patterns. Working Papers 2020-03. Towson University, Department of Economics. Search in Google Scholar

Mattozzi, A., M. Morelli, and M. Y. Nakaguma. 2020. “Populism and War.” CEPR DP no. 14501. Search in Google Scholar

Repucci, S. 2020. “A Leaderless Struggle for Democracy.” In Highlights from Freedom House Annual Report on Political Rights and Civil Liberties: FREEDOM IN THE WORLD 2020. Search in Google Scholar

Snowden, F. 2020a. “Uprisings after Pandemics Have Happened Before: Just Look at the English Peasant Revolt of 1381.” The Conversation, June 5. Search in Google Scholar

Snowden, F. 2020b. Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present. New Haven: Yale University Press. Search in Google Scholar

Torales, J., M. O’Higgins, J. Castaldelli-Maia, and A. Ventriglio. 2020. “The Outbreak of COVID-19 Coronavirus and its Impact on Global Mental Health.” International Journal of Social Psychiatry 66 (4): 317–20, https://doi.org/10.1177/0020764020915212. Search in Google Scholar

Received: 2020-07-28
Accepted: 2020-07-31
Published Online: 2020-08-26

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston