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Are Recessions Good For Your Health?

  • Christopher J. Ruhm

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 microdata indicates that smoking and obesity increase when the economy strengthens, whereas physical activity is reduced and diet becomes less healthy. © 2000 the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 115 (2000)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 617-650

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:115:y:2000:i:2:p:617-650
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