Economic Expansions are Unhealthy: Evidence from Microdata
39 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2001 Last revised: 31 Jan 2021
Date Written: August 2001
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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