A booming economy does not only bring good news.
Death rates among middle aged and older people – men especially – are higher in periods of expansion, according to a study published yesterday in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
The study’s authors compared official statistics for gross domestic product (GDP) and mortality rates in 19 developed countries between 1950 and 2008. They found mortality increased 0.4 percent in men aged 70 to 74 with every 1 percent gain in GDP. The same was true for men aged 40 to 44.
The researchers, led by Herbert Rolden of the Leyden Academy on Vitality and Ageing in the Netherlands, found a more tenuous connection for women, with a 0.2 percent increase in mortality for every 1 percent GDP gain.
More research might be needed to explain the link. Because the study contained both middle-aged and retirement-age subjects, the scientists said they could rule out a number of obvious connections. “Traditional explanations such as work stress and traffic accidents cannot explain our findings,” they wrote.
Similarly, an increase in pollution due to heavier traffic during expansion times should have the same impact on men and women.
It was possible that people might face more work demands during good economic times and so would have less time to offer informal care to their older relatives, they speculated. – Bloomberg