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A recent study found that during the Great Depression and two recessions, death rates decreased and life expectancy increased. The association between economic downstrends and a "healthier" populace is decreasing. The implications are astounding.

Life and death during the Great Depression
University of Michigan study, ANN ARBOR, Mich
researchers: José A. Tapia Granados and Ana Diez Roux
published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/09/28/0904491106
1930's leading causes of death: heart & kidney dz, flu and pneumonia, cancer, MVAs
mortality rates decr during the Great Depression
data: life expectancy and mortality
associations between economic growth and population health
1920 to 1940
"population health generally improved" 4 yrs during Great Depression
also improved during recessions in 1921 and 1938
mortality increased and life expectancy declined during boomtimes

INCREASED LIFE EXPECTANCY
life expectancy rose from 57.1 in 1929 to 63.3 years in 1932
pattern holds for recessions of 1921, 1938
longer US life expectancy during the Great Depression
incr x6.2yrs
incr occurred same vs men, women, whites, non-whites
strong finding
life expectancy incr x6yrs (whites) or 8yrs for nonwhites

WORSE DURING PROSPERITY
worse during periods of "prosperity" before and after
strong economic expansion: 1923, 1926, 1929, and 1936-1937

DATA
age-specific mortality rates
6 top causes of death-->2/3 of all death in 1930's: CV, renal, CA, flu, pneumo, TB, MVA, suicide
assoc btw better health and slower economy true all ages except for suicide

SUICIDE
only one of top death causes to increase during Great Depression
less than 2% of total deaths
suicide prevention services much needed in depression and often cut when budgets cut

WHY EXPANSION IS BAD FOR POPULATION HEALTH: THEORIES
speculation about why people sicker when richer: food, drink, smoke, party
hard working conditions, inexperience-->injuries, busy, overtime, stress, drinking, smoking, less sleep, diet?, more pollution-->CV and resp deaths, social isolation that occurs dt work

WHY RECESSION IS GOOD FOR POPULATION HEALTH: THEORIES
poorer: less food and booze, more sleeping (more sex?), less working-->decr accidents, incr social, family, less work, slower pace, more sleep, less drink/smoking
*but I heard somewhere that alchohol sales are strong during recessions? "buy sin stocks"???

ISR
Institute for Social Research
world top academic soc sci survey & research org
http://www.isr.umich.edu/home/
world: 60 nations collaborating
formal ties with U's in Poland, China, S. Africa
widely-cited studies: Survey of Consumer Attitudes, National Election Studies, Monitoring the Future Study, Panel Study of Income Dynamics, Health and Retirement Study, Columbia County Longitudinal Study, National Survey of Black Americans
Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR)
world's largest computerized social science data archive
http://www.isr.umich.edu
Contact: Diane Swanbrow
Phone: (734) 647-4416

THE ABSTRACT
Life and death during the Great Depression
1. José A. Tapia Granadosa,1 and
2. Ana V. Diez Rouxb
Abstract

Recent events highlight the importance of examining the impact of economic downturns on population health. The Great Depression of the 1930s was the most important economic downturn in the U.S. in the twentieth century. We used historical life expectancy and mortality data to examine associations of economic growth with population health for the period 1920–1940. We conducted descriptive analyses of trends and examined associations between annual changes in health indicators and annual changes in economic activity using correlations and regression models. Population health did not decline and indeed generally improved during the 4 years of the Great Depression, 1930–1933, with mortality decreasing for almost all ages, and life expectancy increasing by several years in males, females, whites, and nonwhites. For most age groups, mortality tended to peak during years of strong economic expansion (such as 1923, 1926, 1929, and 1936–1937). In contrast, the recessions of 1921, 1930–1933, and 1938 coincided with declines in mortality and gains in life expectancy. The only exception was suicide mortality which increased during the Great Depression, but accounted for less than 2% of deaths. Correlation and regression analyses confirmed a significant negative effect of economic expansions on health gains. The evolution of population health during the years 1920–1940 confirms the counterintuitive hypothesis that, as in other historical periods and market economies, population health tends to evolve better during recessions than in expansions.

ANOTHER SOURCE
http://www.press.umich.edu/titleDetailDesc.do?id=11061
The Great Depression
An International Disaster of Perverse Economic Policies
book about economic policy mistakes that led to great depression
but wasn't it a whole lot more than economic policy? I guess I should read

SOURCES
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/09/28/0904491106
http://www.isr.umich.edu/home/
http://www.ns.umich.edu/htdocs/releases/story.php?id=7331

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