To Your Health! The Upside of Recessions

"Na zdrowie!" the Poles say. "To your health!"

And health may be the good news of any global economic downturn.

From Science Magazine:

You’ve lost your job, your house, and your savings. But, hey, you still have your health, right? Actually, you probably do–and it may even be improving. Researchers have found that, historically, Americans were healthier during the Great Depression and other economic downturns than they were during periods of prosperity. And they say the trend may still hold true today.

For many, the Great Depression conjures up images of wan, rail-thin men waiting in bread lines. At its peak in 1932, unemployment hit 22.9% and U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), a standard measure of economic performance, had shrunk by 14%. Despite these hardships, the average American was healthier during this period than during the economic booms that preceded and followed it, according to social researcher José Tapia Granados and his co-author Ana Diez Roux, both of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

The pair studied historical life expectancy and mortality data, GDP growth and unemployment rates, focusing on the years 1920 through 1940.

What did they find?

Tapia Granados’s team found an inverse association between economic health and population health: Life expectancy fell during economic upturns and increased during recessions. Mortality, meanwhile, tended to rise during economic upturns and fall during recessions. Deaths related to flu and pneumonia, for example, fell from about 150 per 100,000 people in 1929 to roughly 100 per 100,000 people in 1930, the researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Suicide was the only cause of death that increased during times of economic turmoil.

American Poles also quip, "Nie ma robi. Nie ma nic. Nie ma pienadze!, Son of a bitch!"

"I have no work. I have nothing. I have no money…"

"Son of a bitch!"

Na zdrowie!