More good news about bad times: the Great Depression increased US life expectancy
As recently reported in Natural News, current economic woes could have a silver lining. A report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) by
“The finding is strong and counterintuitive,”
The research team studied historical life expectancy and mortality data to search for associations between economic growth and population health during the years between 1920 and 1940. They discovered that life expectancy declined during periods of strong economic expansion, such as in 1923, 1926, 1929, and from 1936 to 1937. However, the health of Americans improved in general during the four years of the Great Depression and life expectancy increased from 57.1 years in 1929 to 63.3 years in 1932, according to the analysis. The increase in life span of 6.2 years was found for both men and women.
The U-M researchers investigated rates of death due to the six causes of mortality that were behind two-thirds of all deaths in the 1930s: cardiovascular and renal diseases, cancer, influenza and pneumonia, tuberculosis, motor vehicle injuries and suicide. The strong link between bad economic times and an improvement in health held true for all ages and for every major cause of death, with the exception of suicide.
Why employment is bad for your health
So what’s behind the association between a sick economy and healthier people? The new study didn’t specifically answer that question but
“Working conditions are very different during expansions and recessions,”
“Also, new workers may be hired who are inexperienced, so injuries are likely to be more common. And people who are working a lot may also sleep less which is known to have implications for health. Other health-related behaviors such as diet may also change for the worse during expansions.”
On the other hand, during recessions there can be a slower pace at work and that means less stress for workers. There is more time to get extra sleep and less money to spend on unhealthy extras like cigarettes and alcohol,
“Social science is not physics,”