Just What the Doctor Ordered

Is a bad economy good for you? Recent studies by José A. Tapia Granados and Ana Diez Roux of the University of Michigan tracked the relationship between life expectancy and economic growth during the Great Depression in the United States, Japan’s postwar slump, and recent downturns in Europe. Across gender, race, and nationality, the result ...

575260_chartedterritories2.jpg
575260_chartedterritories2.jpg

Is a bad economy good for you? Recent studies by José A. Tapia Granados and Ana Diez Roux of the University of Michigan tracked the relationship between life expectancy and economic growth during the Great Depression in the United States, Japan's postwar slump, and recent downturns in Europe. Across gender, race, and nationality, the result was the same: Recessions bring longer life spans. For employed people, the health benefits basically result from working less. With fewer hours and a slower pace, stress levels diminish; people cut back on alcohol and cigarettes; they spend more quality time with family and friends; and odds of on-the-job injury decrease. Lowered production also means less air pollution, saving hearts and lungs. In fact, the rise in health among working people during a recession is so great that it more than balances out the substantial decrease in health among the unemployed, even as their numbers grow.

Is a bad economy good for you? Recent studies by José A. Tapia Granados and Ana Diez Roux of the University of Michigan tracked the relationship between life expectancy and economic growth during the Great Depression in the United States, Japan’s postwar slump, and recent downturns in Europe. Across gender, race, and nationality, the result was the same: Recessions bring longer life spans. For employed people, the health benefits basically result from working less. With fewer hours and a slower pace, stress levels diminish; people cut back on alcohol and cigarettes; they spend more quality time with family and friends; and odds of on-the-job injury decrease. Lowered production also means less air pollution, saving hearts and lungs. In fact, the rise in health among working people during a recession is so great that it more than balances out the substantial decrease in health among the unemployed, even as their numbers grow.

Bobby Pierce is an editorial researcher at Foreign Policy.

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