How an Economic Downturn Can Boost Your Health

What's Hot


The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

How a Mexican Tariff Will Boost the Cost of 6 Common PurchasesFamily

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

How to Protect Yourself From the ‘Can You Hear Me?’ Phone ScamFamily

Report: Walmart to Begin Selling CarsCars

Is Your TV Tracking You? Here’s How to Tell — and Prevent ItAround The House

Trump Scraps FHA Rate Cut — What Does It Mean for You?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

11 Staging Tips to Help You Get Top Dollar When Selling Your HomeAround The House

8 Tuition-Free U.S. CollegesCollege

10 Overlooked Expenses That Ruin Your BudgetFamily

4 Car Insurers That Might Raise Rates Even When the Accident Wasn’t Your FaultCars

How to Invest If Trump Kills the ‘Fiduciary Rule’Grow

20 Simple Hacks to Make Your Stuff Last LongerAround The House

12 Surprising Ways to Wreck Your Credit ScoreBorrow

The same recessions that hurt our financial health can help our physical health. Find out why.

The same economic downturns that hurt our financial well-being help our physical health, it turns out.

A new working paper on the health effects of economic crises is the latest to support this argument, CBS MoneyWatch reports.

The paper was written by Christopher J. Ruhm, a University of Virginia professor of public policy and economics. It was released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a private nonprofit based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Ruhm analyzed prior research as well as additional national, state and county data in the United States from 1976 to 2013. He sought to determine whether severe economic crises like those of the 2007-2009 recession affect mortality differently than more garden-variety economic fluctuations.

Ruhm tentatively concluded that both less severe fluctuations and more severe recessions lead to improvements in physical health, writing:

“There is considerable evidence that harmful behaviors — like heavy drinking and smoking — decrease in bad economic times, whereas health-enhancing activities such as exercise and social interactions increase.”

He found this to be especially true of more recent, deeper recessions:

“What is new is evidence that the severe national recessions occurring at the beginning of the 1980s and the end of the first decade of the 21st century had a protective effect on total mortality that was around twice as large as that predicted by the higher unemployment rates occurring during such periods alone.”

A study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2009 similarly concluded that, during the Great Depression of 1930-1933, “population health did not decline and indeed generally improved, … with mortality decreasing for almost all ages, and life expectancy increasing by several years.”

The only exception during the Great Depression was an increase in the suicide rate, a phenomenon that a separate study also has linked to the Great Recession of 2007-2009.

Do you agree that economic depressions and recessions have a generally positive effect on our physical health? Sound off in our Forums. It’s the place where you can speak your mind, explore topics in-depth, and post questions and get answers.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!

💰🗣📰

Read Next: 10 Tips to Maximize Your High-Deductible Health Plan

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 1,878 more deals!