Conventional wisdom holds that bad economic times are also bad for life expectancy as less people can afford proper medical attention and more people succumb to depression and suicide. But the latest research has found that the opposite is true: the health of a population improves slightly when the economy tanks. According to the latest number crunching by Professor Christopher Ruhm of the University of North Carolina, death rates consistently decline during recessions and rise during the boom times. Ruhm found that for every one percent rise in unemployment the death rate falls by about half a percent. Other research has found similar trends during economic downturns in 23 countries between 1960 and 1997. The exact reasons for this are not clear but researchers suspect that during the lean years people tend to spend less money on fattening foods, alcohol and tobacco, while the fear of getting fired might help heavy drinkers stay sober. Deaths from car accidents also drop during higher unemployment simply because less people are commuting to work, industrial accidents drop because less people are working, and even infant deaths drop, presumably because a less industrial output causes a decrease in air pollution. (Oregon Live)

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