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Are Recessions Good for Your Health?

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  • Christopher J. Ruhm

Abstract

This study investigates the relationship between economic conditions and health. Total mortality and eight of the ten sources of fatalities examined are shown to exhibit a procyclical fluctuation, with suicides representing an important exception. The variations are largest for those causes and age groups where behavioral responses are most plausible, and there is some evidence that the unfavorable health effects of temporary upturns are partially or fully offset if the economic growth is long-lasting. An accompanying analysis of micro data indicates that smoking and obesity increase when the economy strengthens, whereas physical activity is reduced and diet becomes less healthy.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher J. Ruhm, 2000. "Are Recessions Good for Your Health?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(2), pages 617-650.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:115:y:2000:i:2:p:617-650.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1162/003355300554872
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    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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