David L. Prychitko
In the September 28 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science University of Michigan researchers found a negative correlation between recessions and mortality rates:
the 4 years of the Great Depression, 1930–1933, with mortality
decreasing for almost all ages, and life expectancy increasing by
several years in males, females, whites, and nonwhites. For most
age groups, mortality tended to peak during years of strong
economic expansion (such as 1923, 1926, 1929, and 1936–1937). In
contrast, the recessions of 1921, 1930–1933, and 1938 coincided
with declines in mortality and gains in life expectancy. The only
exception was suicide mortality which increased during the Great
Depression, but accounted for less than 2% of deaths. Correlation
and regression analyses confirmed a significant negative effect of
economic expansions on health gains. The evolution of population
health during the years 1920–1940 confirms the counterintuitive
hypothesis that, as in other historical periods and market economies,
Do recessions -- as economic corrections -- also contribute to health corrections? Of course, what we have here are correlations that cannot establish cause and effect. Granados and Roux suggest that recessions cause a slowing down of business, a reduction of workplace stress (which more than compensates for the stress of unemployment), a tendency to care more for sickly home-bound family members and so on that all contribute to improved health.
That's their hypothesis. I tend to side with the claim that there are significant lags and that the health problems emerge some years later, as the Granados-Roux model only captures up to three years after a downturn.
What's your hypothesis?