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Mortality Rates Rise for Middle-Aged and Seniors during Economic Booms

Update Date: Oct 07, 2013 06:32 PM EDT

People's physical and mental health and wellbeing are greatly affected by the economy. Several studies have found that during recessions, adults are more susceptible to mental illnesses, such as depression, which could lead to a spike in suicide rates. When the economy is good, on the other hand, people might assume that mortality rates are reduced. In a new study, however, researchers found that when the economy is booming, more middle-aged adults and seniors are dying.

In this study, the researchers examined the gross domestic product (GDP) of 19 developed nations in Europe, North America, Scandinavia and Australasia. The researchers analyzed and compared GDP and mortality rates between 1950 and 2008. They focused two age groups, which were 40 to 44-years-old and 70 to 74-years-old.

The researchers reported that in the long-term, an increase in GDP resulted in a reduction in deaths. When the researchers looked specifically at economic booms and bust, however, they found shocking statistics. When the economy was doing well, there were more deaths. The team calculated that for every one percent increase in GDP, the mortality rate for 70-74-year-olds rose by 0.36 percent. The rate for the middle-aged group increased by 0.38 percent.  When the researchers centered the data on women, they would that a one percent increase in GDP lead to a rise of 0.18 percent in mortality rate for older women and an increase of 0.16 percent in the rate for women in their 40s.

The team also reported that during economic busts, the mortality rates started to reduce. Even though the researchers could not explain what causes these rates, they theorized that an economic boom could result in more work stress and air pollution. Air pollution usually increases during a good economy, which would be detrimental to health. However, the team stated that more research would need to be done to understand what drives these trends. The study was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health

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