IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Health and health behaviors during the great recession: a note on drinking, smoking, obesity, and physical activity


  • Erdal Tekin

    () (American University, IZA and NBER)

  • Chandler McClellan

    (American University, IZA and NBER)

  • Karen Jean Minyard

    (Georgia State University)


Previous studies have shown that recessions are typically associated with better health and health behaviors. With the exception of a few recent studies however, these studies focus on sample periods that end prior to the Great Recession. The few exceptions that extend the analysis period beyond the Great Recession suggest that the pro-cyclical relationship between macroeconomic conditions and mortality obtained in earlier studies might have weakened over time. In this paper, we revisited the relationship between state unemployment rate and a large set of outcomes of health and health behaviors using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) between 1990 and 2014. Overall, our results suggest that state unemployment rate is weakly related to both health and health behaviors as our estimates are too small to have any meaningful implications, although they are largely imprecisely estimated. Finally, we tested whether the Great Recession played a significant role in influencing the pattern in the relationship between unemployment rate and health and health behaviors. Our results from this analysis do not reveal any measurable recession effect, although the estimates are again largely imprecise.

Suggested Citation

  • Erdal Tekin & Chandler McClellan & Karen Jean Minyard, 2018. "Health and health behaviors during the great recession: a note on drinking, smoking, obesity, and physical activity," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 1017-1026, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:reveho:v:16:y:2018:i:4:d:10.1007_s11150-017-9364-2
    DOI: 10.1007/s11150-017-9364-2

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Abstract
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ruhm, Christopher J., 2005. "Healthy living in hard times," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 341-363, March.
    2. Erdal Tekin & Chandler McClellan & Karen Jean Minyard, 2013. "Health and Health Behaviors during the Worst of Times," NBER Working Papers 19234, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Tekin, Erdal & McClellan, Chandler & Minyard, Karen Jean, 2013. "Health and Health Behaviors during the Worst of Times: Evidence from the Great Recession," IZA Discussion Papers 7538, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. repec:wly:hlthec:v:25:y:2016:i::p:6-24 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2016. "Health Effects of Economic Crises," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(S2), pages 6-24, November.
    6. Ruhm, Christopher J., 2015. "Recessions, healthy no more?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 17-28.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Janke, Katharina & Lee, Kevin & Propper, Carol & Shields, Kalvinder & Shields, Michael A., 2020. "Macroeconomic Conditions and Health in Britain: Aggregation, Dynamics and Local Area Heterogeneity," IZA Discussion Papers 13091, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Wilkinson, Lindsay R. & Schafer, Markus H. & Wilkinson, Renae, 2020. "How painful is a recession? An assessment of two future-oriented buffering mechanisms," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 255(C).

    More about this item


    BRFSS; Health; Recession; Unemployment; Smoking; Obesity;

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:reveho:v:16:y:2018:i:4:d:10.1007_s11150-017-9364-2. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Springer Nature Abstracting and Indexing). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.