If it seems there's no possible silver lining to the protracted grey overcast that is the current economic slowdown, you may be surprised. A new study lends evidence to previous research into people's health during times of recession and shows that indicators of general well-being behave in unexpected ways.
A recent study performed by University of Michigan (UM) researchers shows that historically during periods of economic trouble, life expectancy across race and gender has risen while disease and accident mortality fell. Conversely, the opposite was true for economic booms. This information comes from an examination of data on health trends covering the years 1920 through 1940, a span which includes the Great Depression and other downturns, as well as various waves of expansion.
The scope of the study did not include investigating the reasons for these counterintuitive results, but Jose Tapia Granados of UM's Institute for Social Research points to the stress of upswings as being key. During those busy times, he says, companies expect exceeding hours and productivity from workers, which can lead to increased alcohol and tobacco consumption. Additionally, greater business begets greater traffic and higher pollution—both of which contribute to higher death rates.
So, if nothing else, enjoy the relative relaxation and hale and hearty climate afforded by the recession. You'll live longer for it.