Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mortality and the Economy....

This paper:


Describes mortality as procyclical....very upside down it you will....as you can see from the attached graph, mortality seems to increase with decreased unemployment. Or, conversely, economic expansion seems to INCREASE mortality in OECD countries, and economic recessions seem to DECREASE mortality. This not what I think most would expect, and although it is not a new topic, having being described since the 20's, this is a newer article that may be somewhat apropos given the current economy.

Economic recessions have paradoxical effects on the mortality trends of populations in rich countries. Contrary to what might have been expected, economic downturns during the 20th century were associated with declines in mortality rates. In terms of business cycles, mortality is procyclical, meaning it goes up with economic expansions and down with contractions, and not countercyclical (the opposite), as expected. So while most nations enjoyed sustained declines in mortality during the last century, the pace of the decline has been slower during economic booms and greater during so-called busts. The first rigorous studies demonstrating this trend have appeared only in the past 9 years, although the concept is not new. In contrast, for poor countries, shared economic growth appears to improve health by providing the means to meet essential needs such as food, clean water and shelter, as well access to basic health care services. But after a country reaches $5000 to $10 000 gross national product (GNP) per capita (or gross domestic product or gross national income per capita, all of which are similar for our purposes here), few health benefits arise from further economic growth 1 (Figure 1). Health trends in Sweden illustrate this effect.

No comments: