Lifecycle Effects of a Recession on Health Behaviors: Boom, Bust, and Recovery in Iceland

45 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2015

See all articles by Tinna Laufey Ásgeirsdóttir

Tinna Laufey Ásgeirsdóttir

University of Iceland

Hope Corman

Rider University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Kelly Noonan

Rider University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Nancy Reichman

Rutgers University, New Brunswick - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Date Written: February 2015

Abstract

This study uses individual-level longitudinal data from Iceland, a country that experienced a severe economic crisis in 2008 and substantial recovery by 2012, to investigate the extent to which the effects of a recession on health behaviors are lingering or short-lived and to explore trajectories in health behaviors from pre-crisis boom, to crisis, to recovery. Health-compromising behaviors (smoking, heavy drinking, sugared soft drinks, sweets, fast food, and tanning) declined during the crisis, and all but sweets continued to decline during the recovery. Health-promoting behaviors (consumption of fruit, fish oil, and vitamin/ minerals and getting recommended sleep) followed more idiosyncratic paths. Overall, most behaviors reverted back to their pre-crisis levels or trends during the recovery, and these short-term deviations in trajectories were probably too short-lived in this recession to have major impacts on health or mortality. A notable exception is for alcohol consumption, which declined dramatically during the crisis years, continued to fall (at a slower rate) during the recovery, and did not revert back to the pre-crisis upward trend during our observation period. These lingering effects, which directionally run counter to the pre-crisis upward trend, suggest that alcohol is a potential pathway by which recessions improve health and/or reduce mortality.

Suggested Citation

Asgeirsdottir, Tinna Laufey and Corman, Hope and Noonan, Kelly and Reichman, Nancy, Lifecycle Effects of a Recession on Health Behaviors: Boom, Bust, and Recovery in Iceland (February 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w20950, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2565623

Tinna Laufey Asgeirsdottir (Contact Author)

University of Iceland ( email )

Iceland
(354)8650821 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.asgeirsdottir.com

Hope Corman

Rider University ( email )

2083 Lawrenceville Road
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648
United States
609-895-5559 (Phone)
609-896-5304 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Kelly Noonan

Rider University ( email )

2083 Lawrenceville Road
Lawrenceville Township, NJ 08648
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Nancy Reichman

Rutgers University, New Brunswick - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School ( email )

Somerset, NJ 08873
United States

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