Do Recessions Really Help People Live Longer, Healthier Lives? – Real Time Economics – WSJ

August 1, 2017

A new round has opened in the debate over whether recessions are good or bad for public health. Some researchers have found that death rates fall during recessions. But a new study argues such findings may be distorted by migration, as people move away from places that have fallen on hard times and flock to places with booming economies.

Source: Do Recessions Really Help People Live Longer, Healthier Lives? – Real Time Economics – WSJ

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Health Effects of Economic Crises

August 1, 2017

This analysis summarizes prior research and uses national, state and county level data from the United States from 1976-2013 to examine whether the mortality effects of economic crises differ in kind from those of the more typical fluctuations. The tentative conclusion is that economic crises affect mortality rates (and presumably other measures of health) in the same way as less severe downturns: namely, they lead to improvements in physical health. The effects of severe national recessions in the United States, appear to have a beneficial effect on mortality that is roughly twice as strong as that predicted due to the elevated unemployment rates alone while the higher predicted rate of suicides during typical periods of economic weakness is approximately offset during severe recessions. No consistent pattern is obtained for more localized economic crises occurring at the state level – some estimates suggest larger protective mortality effects while others indicate offsetting deleterious consequences.

Source: Health Effects of Economic Crises


Estimating the Recession-Mortality Relationship When Migration Matters by Vellore Arthi, Brian Beach, William Walker Hanlon :: SSRN

June 24, 2017

A large literature following Ruhm (2000) suggests that mortality falls during recessions and rises during booms. The panel-data approach used to generate these results assumes that either there is no substantial migration response to temporary changes in local economic conditions, or that any such response is accurately captured by intercensal population estimates. To assess the importance of these assumptions, we examine two natural experiments: the recession in cotton textile-producing districts of Britain during the U.S. Civil War, and the coal boom in Appalachian counties of the U.S. that followed the OPEC oil embargo in the 1970s. In both settings, we find evidence of a substantial migratory response. Moreover, we show that estimates of the relationship between business cycles and mortality are highly sensitive to assumptions related to migration. After adjusting for migration, we find that mortality increased during the cotton recession, but was largely unaffected by the coal boom. Overall, our results suggest that migration can meaningfully bias estimates of the impact of business-cycle fluctuations on mortality.

Source: Estimating the Recession-Mortality Relationship When Migration Matters by Vellore Arthi, Brian Beach, William Walker Hanlon :: SSRN


Do More of Those in Misery Suffer from Poverty, Unemployment or Mental Illness? by Sarah Flèche, Richard Layard :: SSRN

February 3, 2017

Studies of deprivation usually ignore mental illness. This paper uses household panel data from the USA, Australia, Britain and Germany to broaden the analysis. We ask first how many of those in the lowest levels of life‐satisfaction suffer from unemployment, poverty, physical ill health, and mental illness. The largest proportion suffers from mental illness. Multiple regression shows that mental illness is not highly correlated with poverty or unemployment, and that it contributes more to explaining the presence of misery than is explained by either poverty or unemployment. This holds both with and without fixed effects.

Source: Do More of Those in Misery Suffer from Poverty, Unemployment or Mental Illness? by Sarah Flèche, Richard Layard :: SSRN


The Dynamic Effects of Health on the Employment of Older Workers by Richard W. Blundell, Jack Britton, Monica Costa Dias, Eric French :: SSRN

December 13, 2016

Using data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), we estimate a dynamic model of health and employment. We estimate how transitory and persistent health shocks affect employment over time. In a first step, we formulate and estimate a dynamic model of health. The procedure accounts for measurement error and the possibility that people might justify their employment status by reporting bad health. We find that health is well represented by the sum of a transitory white noise process and a persistent AR(1) process. Next, we use the method of simulated moments to estimate the employment response to these shocks. We find that persistent shocks have much bigger effects on employment than transitory shocks, and that these persistent shocks are long lived. For this reason employment is strongly correlated with lagged health, a fact that the usual cross-sectional estimates do not account for. We also show that accounting for the dynamics of health and employment leads to larger estimates of health’s effects on employment than what simple OLS estimates of health on employment would imply. We argue that the dynamic effect of health on employment could be generated by a model with human capital accumulation, where negative health shocks slowly reduce the human capital stock, and thus, gradually cause people to exit the labor market.

Source: The Dynamic Effects of Health on the Employment of Older Workers by Richard W. Blundell, Jack Britton, Monica Costa Dias, Eric French :: SSRN


Does a Mandatory Reduction of Standard Working Hours Improve Employees’ Health Status? by Rafael Sánchez :: SSRN

December 9, 2016

Most of the empirical evidence regarding the impact of reductions of standard working hours analyzes its effects on employment outcomes, family life balance, and social networks, but there is no empirical evidence of its effects on health outcomes. This study uses panel data for France and Portugal and exploits the exogenous variation of working hours coming from labor regulation and estimates its impact on health outcomes (from 39 to 35 hours a week and from 44 to 40 hours a week, respectively). Results suggest that the mandatory reduction of standard working hours decreased the working hours of treated individuals (and not the hours of individuals in the control group). Results also suggest that the fact of being treated generated a negative (positive) effect on young males’ (females’) health in France. No effects on health outcomes were found for Portugal.

Source: Does a Mandatory Reduction of Standard Working Hours Improve Employees’ Health Status? by Rafael Sánchez :: SSRN


Trade Liberalization and Mortality: Evidence from U.S. Counties by Justin R. Pierce, Peter K. Schott :: SSRN

December 9, 2016

We investigate the impact of a large economic shock on mortality. We find that counties more exposed to a plausibly exogenous trade liberalization exhibit higher rates of suicide and related causes of death, concentrated among whites, especially white males. These trends are consistent with our finding that more-exposed counties experience relative declines in manufacturing employment, a sector in which whites and males are over-represented. We also examine other causes of death that might be related to labor market disruption and find both positive and negative relationships. More-exposed counties, for example, exhibit lower rates of fatal heart attacks.

Source: Trade Liberalization and Mortality: Evidence from U.S. Counties by Justin R. Pierce, Peter K. Schott :: SSRN