The reversal of the relation between economic growth and health progress: Sweden in the 19th and 20th centuries
Health progress, as measured by the decline in mortality rates and the increase in life expectancy, is usually conceived as related to economic growth, especially in the long run. In this investigation it is shown that economic growth is positively associated with health progress in Sweden throughout the 19th century. However, the relation becomes weaker as time passes and is completely reversed in the second half of the 20th century, when economic growth negatively affects health progress. The effect of the economy on health occurs mostly at lag 0 in the 19th century and is lagged up to 2 years in the 20th century. No evidence is found for economic effects on mortality at greater lags. These findings are shown to be robustly consistent across a variety of statistical procedures, including linear regression, spectral analysis, cross-correlation, and lag regression models. Models using inflation and unemployment as economic indicators reveal similar results. Evidence for reverse effects of health progress on economic growth is weak, and unobservable in the second half of the 20th century.
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