Supply, Demand, and Death Rates

What does the economy have to do with people dying? Apparently a lot. A recent New York Times article compiled different research studies that looked at the correlation between unemployment and mortality rates at various times. Though a stronger economy leads to better overall well-being, it can lead to higher mortality rates. While this hypothesis is counter-intuitive, it has been proven in numerous studies.

One study observed joblessness and mortality rates before and after the Great Recession in Europe, and found that a one-percentage-point-increase in the national unemployment rate leads to a 0.5% decline in the overall mortality rate. More studies in Europe and the United States come to a similar conclusion.

A better economy also leads to more pollution, as stated in a 2016 study looking at 200 years of data pertaining to employment and mortality. As industries produce more goods, they emit more air pollution, causing an increase in deaths.

Some key factors contributing to an increased mortality rate in a stronger economy include an increase in occupational hazards, tobacco and alcohol consumption, and (as more people drive to work) car accidents. Another study found that during economic recessions, people find more time to exercise, lowering obesity rates. However, suicide rates increase as well.

Sophia Kim