NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Are Recessions Good For Your Health?

Christopher J. Ruhm

NBER Working Paper No. 5570
Issued in May 1996
NBER Program(s):   EFG   HE

This study examines the relationship between economic conditions and health. Fixed-effect models are estimated using state level data for the 1972-1991 time period. Health is proxied by total and age- specific mortality rates, as well as by 10 particular causes of death. Total mortality and nine of the ten sources of fatalities exhibit a procyclical variation, with suicides representing the important exception. The fluctuations in mortality are larger for 20-44 year olds than for older individuals. The predicted relationship between personal incomes and health is quite weak and is sensitive to the choice of model specifications, time periods and dependent variables. These findings suggest the possible importance of cyclical variations in the time costs of medical care or healthy lifestyles and of negative health effects of job-holding.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w5570

Published: Ruhm, Christopher J. "Are Recessions Good For Your Health?," Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2000, v115(2,May), 617-650. citation courtesy of

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