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