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Macroeconomic Conditions, Health and Mortality

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  • Christopher J. Ruhm

Abstract

Although health is conventionally believed to deteriorate during macroeconomic downturns, the empirical evidence supporting this view is quite weak and comes from studies containing methodological shortcomings that are difficult to remedy. Recent research that better controls for many sources of omitted variables bias instead suggests that mortality decreases and physical health improves when the economy temporarily weakens. This partially reflects reductions in external sources of death, such as traffic fatalities and other accidents, but changes in lifestyles and health behaviors are also likely to play a role. This paper summarizes our current understanding of how health is affected by macroeconomic fluctuations and describes potential mechanisms for the effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher J. Ruhm, 2004. "Macroeconomic Conditions, Health and Mortality," NBER Working Papers 11007, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11007 Note: HE
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    Cited by:

    1. Wu, Wen-Chieh & Cheng, Hui-Pei, 2010. "Symmetric mortality and asymmetric suicide cycles," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, pages 1974-1981.
    2. Alberto Montagnoli & Mirko Moro, 2014. "Everybody Hurts: Banking Crises and Individual Wellbeing," Working Papers 2014010, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics.
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    7. Meyer, Sophie-Charlotte, 2016. "Maternal employment and childhood overweight in Germany," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, pages 84-102.
    8. Edwards, Ryan, 2008. "Who is hurt by procyclical mortality?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, pages 2051-2058.
    9. Darby, Julia & Melitz, Jacques, 2007. "Labour Market Adjustment, Social Spending and the Automatic Stabilizers in the OECD," CEPR Discussion Papers 6230, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. repec:wly:hlthec:v:25:y:2016:i::p:25-42 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Dave, Dhaval M. & Kelly, Inas Rashad, 2012. "How does the business cycle affect eating habits?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, pages 254-262.
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    17. Petri Böckerman & Edvard Johansson & Satu Helakorpi & Ritva Prättälä & Erkki Vartiainen & Antti Uutela, 2007. "Does a slump really make you thinner? Finnish micro-level evidence 1978-2002," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(1), pages 103-107.
    18. Joan Costa‐Font & Martin Karlsson & Henning Øien, 2016. "Careful in the Crisis? Determinants of Older People's Informal Care Receipt in Crisis‐Struck European Countries," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25, pages 25-42, November.
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    20. repec:dau:papers:123456789/12483 is not listed on IDEAS
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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