Spanish Influenza in Madrid: Contextualizing Timing and Strength Differences in Spatial and Social Variations

Laura Cilek, Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales - CSIC
Beatriz Echeverri, Grupo de Estudios de Poblacio`n y Sociedad, Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Diego Ramiro-FariƱas, Spanish National Research Counsel (CSIC)

Responsible for 50-100 million deaths worldwide, the influenza pandemic events of 1918-1920 continue to be studied in aggregate and some micro-level contexts. While recent research examines the contribution of socioeconomic status to influenza mortality, our analysis adds a geographic element to look at the intersection of location and individual social characteristics. We employ two sources of individual level data (the Madrid listing of Inhabitants in 1920 and death records from 1917- 1922) to help disentangle the roles individual level and neighborhood socioeconomic factors played in mortality during each of the four epidemic waves. In Madrid, the 1918 Spanish flu can be characterized by four distinct waves; a strong, but short Spring wave raged in May and June of 1918, followed by longer, but less virulent waves in the fall and winter of 1918 and 1919. We first examine the variations in strength and timing for each of Madrid's 10 districts, then focus on two demographically and socioeconomically diverse areas of the city to understand in which ways the unique characteristics of each inhabitant may have contributed to their flu mortality or survival. Preliminary results show that within Madrid, the presence and severity of each wave differed by location. Continued analyses will provide greater insight into what specific roles socioeconomic gradients played in these differences.

Presented in Poster Session 1