Macroeconomic Conditions, Health and Mortality

19 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2004 Last revised: 29 Jan 2021

See all articles by Christopher J. Ruhm

Christopher J. Ruhm

University of Virginia - Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: December 2004

Abstract

Although health is conventionally believed to deteriorate during macroeconomic downturns, the empirical evidence supporting this view is quite weak and comes from studies containing methodological shortcomings that are difficult to remedy. Recent research that better controls for many sources of omitted variables bias instead suggests that mortality decreases and physical health improves when the economy temporarily weakens. This partially reflects reductions in external sources of death, such as traffic fatalities and other accidents, but changes in lifestyles and health behaviors are also likely to play a role. This paper summarizes our current understanding of how health is affected by macroeconomic fluctuations and describes potential mechanisms for the effects.

Suggested Citation

Ruhm, Christopher J., Macroeconomic Conditions, Health and Mortality (December 2004). NBER Working Paper No. w11007, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=641061

Christopher J. Ruhm (Contact Author)

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