NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Economic Expansions Are Unhealthy: Evidence from Microdata

Christopher J. Ruhm

NBER Working Paper No. 8447
Issued in August 2001
NBER Program(s):   HC   HE

This study uses microdata from the 1972-1981 National Health Interview Surveys to examine how health status and medical care utilization fluctuate with state macroeconomic conditions, after controlling for personal characteristics, location fixed-effects, general time effects and (usually) state-specific time trends. The major finding is that there is a countercyclical variation in physical health that is especially pronounced for individuals of prime-working age, employed persons, and males. The negative health effects of economic expansions accumulate over several years, are larger for acute than chronic ailments, and occur despite increased use of medical care. Finally, there is some evidence that mental health is procyclical, in sharp contrast to physical well-being.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w8447

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