Former Obama Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag has an article in Bloomberg touting the life extending properties of a bad economy:
Given the added anxiety created by a weak economy, you might think life expectancy would decline. Oddly, though, during recessions, exactly the opposite tends to happen: Life expectancy rises.Or maybe it just seems longer
It’s happening again now.Obama ruined the economy to make us all live a little longer? The same way his wife wants to force feed us vegetables (while eating a 1700 calorie burger lunch)?
The age-adjusted death rate in the U.S. declined by 2 percent from 2007 to 2010, according to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a result, projected life expectancy at birth rose to 78.7 years in 2010 from 77.9 years in 2007, an increase of 0.8 year. In contrast, from 2004 to 2007, when the economy was much stronger, life expectancy rose by only 0.4 year.
Life expectancy appears to have risen more in the states with relatively large increases in unemployment. In Michigan and Illinois, for example, where joblessness rose much more than in North Dakota or Iowa, age-adjusted death rates have had a steeper decline since 2007. (In the states with the smallest increase in unemployment, the death rates have perversely risen.)
These cross-state data are consistent with historical patterns that economists Douglas Miller, Marianne Page, Ann Stevens and Mateusz Filipski have found. Their research shows that a one-percentage-point increase in a state’s unemployment rate is associated with a 0.5 percent reduction in the state’s mortality rate.
So what accounts for this effect, supposing it to be true?
It appears that while suicide rates rise during downturns, other types of fatalities, such as from motor-vehicle accidents, fall more. The surprising findings apply even to heart attacks. In a study titled “A Healthy Economy Can Break Your Heart,” Ruhm finds that higher unemployment reduces deaths from heart attacks, perhaps because when there is less economic activity, hazards such as air pollution and traffic congestion are less severe. Smoking and obesity also tend to decline, Ruhm has found.See, that's the way to get the American people to eat healthy and lose weight as the government wants. Take away their ability to spend money and pursue the life style they want. See, $4.00 a gallon gas is good for your health!
By the way, the reduction in deaths averted tends to be proportionally smaller for the elderly, but larger in absolute numbers -- because their underlying mortality rates are higher than those of younger people.