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Exploring the relationship between macroeconomic conditions and problem drinking as captured by Google searches in the US

Listed author(s):
  • Frijters, P.
  • Johnston, D.W.
  • Lordan, G.
  • Shields, M.

There is considerable policy interest in the impact of macroeconomic conditions on health-related behaviours and outcomes. This paper sheds new light on this issue by exploring the relationship between macroeconomic conditions and an indicator of problem drinking derived from state-level data on alcoholism-related Google searches conducted in the US over the period 2004-2011. We find the current recessionary period coincided with an almost 20% increase in alcoholism-related searches. Controlling for state and time-effects, a 5% rise in unemployment is followed in the next 12 months by an approximate 15% increase in searches. The use of Internet searches to inform on health-related behaviours and outcomes is in its infancy; but we suggest that the data provides important real-time information for policy-makers and can help overcome the under-reporting in surveys of sensitive information.

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File URL: https://www.york.ac.uk/media/economics/documents/herc/wp/13_02.pdf
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Paper provided by HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York in its series Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers with number 13/02.

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Date of creation: Feb 2013
Handle: RePEc:yor:hectdg:13/02
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HEDG/HERC, Department of Economics and Related Studies, University of York, York, YO10 5DD, United Kingdom

Phone: (0)1904 323776
Web page: https://www.york.ac.uk/economics/postgrad/herc/hedg/
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  1. Christopher Ruhm, 2007. "A healthy economy can break your heart," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 44(4), pages 829-848, November.
  2. Cotti Chad & Tefft Nathan, 2011. "Decomposing the Relationship between Macroeconomic Conditions and Fatal Car Crashes during the Great Recession: Alcohol- and Non-Alcohol-Related Accidents," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-24, August.
  3. Ruhm, Christopher J., 2005. "Healthy living in hard times," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 341-363, March.
  4. Christopher J. Ruhm, 1996. "Are Recessions Good For Your Health?," NBER Working Papers 5570, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Levin, Andrew & Lin, Chien-Fu & James Chu, Chia-Shang, 2002. "Unit root tests in panel data: asymptotic and finite-sample properties," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 1-24, May.
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  7. Freeman, Donald G., 1999. "A note on 'Economic conditions and alcohol problems'," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(5), pages 659-668, October.
  8. Askitas, Nikos & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2011. "Health and Well-Being in the Crisis," IZA Discussion Papers 5601, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Ruhm, Christopher J. & Black, William E., 2002. "Does drinking really decrease in bad times?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 659-678, July.
  10. Tefft, Nathan, 2011. "Insights on unemployment, unemployment insurance, and mental health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 258-264, March.
  11. Christopher Ruhm, 1994. "Economic Conditions and Alcohol Problems," NBER Working Papers 4914, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Rajeev Dehejia & Thomas DeLeire & Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 2005. "Insuring Consumption and Happiness Through Religious Organizations," NBER Working Papers 11576, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. José Tapia granados, 2008. "Macroeconomic fluctuations and mortality in postwar Japan," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 45(2), pages 323-343, May.
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