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Economic Expansions Are Unhealthy: Evidence from Microdata

  • Christopher J. Ruhm

This study uses microdata from the 1972-1981 National Health Interview Surveys to examine how health status and medical care utilization fluctuate with state macroeconomic conditions, after controlling for personal characteristics, location fixed-effects, general time effects and (usually) state-specific time trends. The major finding is that there is a countercyclical variation in physical health that is especially pronounced for individuals of prime-working age, employed persons, and males. The negative health effects of economic expansions accumulate over several years, are larger for acute than chronic ailments, and occur despite increased use of medical care. Finally, there is some evidence that mental health is procyclical, in sharp contrast to physical well-being.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w8447.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8447.

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Date of creation: Aug 2001
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8447
Note: HC HE
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  1. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-55, March-Apr.
  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.
  3. Currie, Janet & Madrian, Brigitte C., 1999. "Health, health insurance and the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 50, pages 3309-3416 Elsevier.
  4. Vivian H. Hamilton & Philip Merrigan & Éric Dufresne, 1997. "Down and out: estimating the relationship between mental health and unemployment," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 6(4), pages 397-406.
  5. 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.
  6. Kenneth Y. Chay & Michael Greenstone, 1999. "The Impact of Air Pollution on Infant Mortality: Evidence from Geographic Variation in Pollution Shocks Induced by a Recession," NBER Working Papers 7442, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. John Bound, 1991. "Self-Reported Versus Objective Measures of Health in Retirement Models," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 26(1), pages 106-138.
  8. Manning, Willard G, et al, 1987. "Health Insurance and the Demand for Medical Care: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 251-77, June.
  9. 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.
  10. Christopher Ruhm, 1994. "Economic Conditions and Alcohol Problems," NBER Working Papers 4914, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Brenner, M. Harvey & Mooney, Anne, 1983. "Unemployment and health in the context of economic change," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 17(16), pages 1125-1138, January.
  12. Robert J. MacCulloch & Rafael Di Tella & Andrew J. Oswald, 2001. "Preferences over Inflation and Unemployment: Evidence from Surveys of Happiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 335-341, March.
  13. 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.
  14. Freeman, Donald G., 1999. "A note on 'Economic conditions and alcohol problems'," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(5), pages 659-668, October.
  15. 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.
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