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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 26, 2020

COVID-19 and the Potential Consequences for Social Stability

  • Roberto Censolo EMAIL logo and Massimo Morelli


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:


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

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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