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The Human Cost of Economic Crises

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  • Marcus Alexander

    (Harvard University)

  • Matthew Harding

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Stanford University)

  • Carlos Lamarche

    (University of Oklahoma)

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    Abstract

    Policy makers rely on a mix of government spending and tax cuts to address imbalances in the economy during an economic crisis. However, little discussion appears to focus explicitly on the costs of economic crises in terms of human lives, especially the lives of the most vulnerable members of society, infants. This paper quantifies the effect periods of prolonged economic recession have on infant mortality. Moreover, we investigate whether different levels of public spending on health across advanced industrialized democracies can mitigate the impact of crises on infant mortality. We find that economic crises are extremely costly and lead to a more than proportional increase in infant mortality in the short-run. Substantial public spending on health is required in order to limit their impact.

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    File URL: http://www-siepr.stanford.edu/repec/sip/08-029.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research in its series Discussion Papers with number 08-029.

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    Date of creation: Mar 2009
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    Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:08-029

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    Related research

    Keywords: economic crisis; infant mortality; quantile regression; forecasting;

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    References

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    1. Gerdtham, Ulf-G. & Ruhm, Christopher J., 2006. "Deaths rise in good economic times: Evidence from the OECD," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 298-316, December.
    2. Anne Case & Darren Lubotsky & Christina Paxson, 2002. "Economic status and health in childhood: the origins of the gradient," Working Papers 262, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
    3. Christopher J. Ruhm, 1996. "Are Recessions Good For Your Health?," NBER Working Papers 5570, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Koenker, Roger, 2004. "Quantile regression for longitudinal data," Journal of Multivariate Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 91(1), pages 74-89, October.
    5. Koenker, Roger W & Bassett, Gilbert, Jr, 1978. "Regression Quantiles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 33-50, January.
    6. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009. "The Aftermath of Financial Crises," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 466-72, May.
    7. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2003. "Healthy Living in Hard Times," NBER Working Papers 9468, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Reinhart, Carmen M. & Rogoff, Kenneth S., 2009. "The Aftermath of Financial Crises," Scholarly Articles 11129155, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    9. Ruhm, Christopher J., 2003. "Good times make you sick," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 637-658, July.
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