MORTALITY AND THE NATIONAL ECONOMY. A REVIEW, AND THE EXPERIENCE OF ENGLAND AND WALES, 1936-76

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Abstract

The long-term upward trend in real percaput incomes is associated with better health, but the smoothed curve disguises cyclic fluctuations, recessions followed by periods of rapid economic growth, which may be stressful to certain groups in the workforce and, by extension, to their families. Especially vulnerable in recessions are those in industries whose goods or services are not essential, the less skilled who are the first to lose their jobs and the last to get their jobs back when the economy improves, and those who find that over one turn in the business cycle their skills are no longer needed. For these groups, most often to be found in the lower socioeconomic classes, this lack of economic security is stressful: social and family structures break down and habits that are harmful to health are adopted. Acutely, if the effect manifests as a psychopathological event (e.g., suicide), or after a time lag of a few years or even one or more turns of the business cycle for chronic diseases, economic recessions and subsequent periods of rapid economic growth are associated with a deceleration in the normally declining curve of mortality against time. This model, tested previously on U.S. data, has now been confirmed on data for England and Wales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-573
Number of pages6
JournalThe Lancet
Volume314
Issue number8142
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Sep 1979

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