Deaths Rise in Good Economic Times: Evidence From the OECD

27 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2003  

Ulf Gerdtham

Lund University - Faculty of Medicine

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

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 2002

Abstract

This study uses aggregate data for 23 OECD countries over the 1960-1997 period to examine the relationship between macroeconomic conditions and fatalities. The main finding is that total mortality and deaths from several common causes increase when labor markets strengthen. For instance, controlling for year effects, location fixed effects, country-specific time trends and demographic characteristics, a one percentage point decrease in the national unemployment rate is associated with a 0.4 percent rise in total mortality and 0.4, 1.1, 1.8, 2.1 and 0.8 percent increases in deaths from cardiovascular disease, influenza/pneumonia, liver disease, motor vehicle fatalities and other accidents. These results are consistent with the findings of other recent research and cast doubt on the hypothesis that economic downturns have negative effects on physical health.

Keywords: Business Cycles, Mortality, Health

JEL Classification: E32, J2, I12

Suggested Citation

Gerdtham, Ulf and Ruhm, Christopher J., Deaths Rise in Good Economic Times: Evidence From the OECD (November 2002). IZA Discussion Paper No. 654. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=372460

Ulf Gerdtham

Lund University - Faculty of Medicine ( email )

Box 117
SE-221 00 Lund
Sweden

Christopher J. Ruhm (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy ( email )

235 McCormick Rd.
P.O. Box 400893
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4893
United States
434-924-7581 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://batten.virginia.edu/cruhm.html

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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