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Healthy Living in Hard Times

  • Ruhm, Christopher J.

    ()

    (University of Virginia)

Using microdata for adults from the 1987-2000 years of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, I show that smoking and height-adjusted weight decline during temporary economic downturns while leisure-time physical activity rises. The drop in tobacco use occurs disproportionately among heavy smokers, the fall in body weight among the severely obese, and the increase in exercise among those who were completely inactive. Declining work hours may provide one reason why behaviors become healthier when the economy weakens, possibly by increasing the non-market time available for lifestyle investments. Conversely, there is little evidence that reductions in income play an important role. The overall conclusion is that changes in behaviors supply one mechanism for the procyclical variation in mortality and morbidity observed in recent research.

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File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp711.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 711.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2003
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Health Economics, 2005, 24 (2), 341-363
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp711
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  1. Forbes, John F. & McGregor, Alan, 1984. "Unemployment and mortality in post-war Scotland," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 239-257, December.
  2. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2000. "Are Recessions Good For Your Health?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(2), pages 617-650, May.
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  7. Stephen E. Snyder & William N. Evans, 2002. "The Impact of Income on Mortality: Evidence from the Social Security Notch," NBER Working Papers 9197, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Theodore Joyce & Naci Mocan, 1993. "Unemployment and Infant Health: Time-Series Evidence from the State of Tennessee," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 28(1), pages 185-203.
  9. Wagstaff, Adam, 1985. "Time series analysis of the relationship between unemployment and mortality: A survey of econometric critiques and replications of Brenner's studies," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 21(9), pages 985-996, January.
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  14. Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 1999. "Asymptotic Properties of Weighted M-Estimators for Variable Probability Samples," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(6), pages 1385-1406, November.
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  16. Christopher Ruhm, 1994. "Economic Conditions and Alcohol Problems," NBER Working Papers 4914, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Kenneth Y. Chay & Michael Greenstone, 2003. "The Impact Of Air Pollution On Infant Mortality: Evidence From Geographic Variation In Pollution Shocks Induced By A Recession," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1121-1167, August.
  18. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275, February.
  19. Chou, Shin-Yi & Grossman, Michael & Saffer, Henry, 2004. "An economic analysis of adult obesity: results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 565-587, May.
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  22. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Lawrence F. Katz, 1992. "Regional Evolutions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(1), pages 1-76.
  23. Vistnes, Jessica Primoff & Hamilton, Vivian, 1995. "The Time and Monetary Costs of Outpatient Care for Children," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 117-21, May.
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  25. Butler, J. S., 2000. "Efficiency results of MLE and GMM estimation with sampling weights," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 25-37, May.
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