New research on why recessions are good for your health – if you are an older woman

Published May 7th 2012

As reported recently by the National Bureau of Economic Research, “One notable and now well-established fact is that mortality rates rise during periods of economic expansion and fall during recessions.”

Delving into the detail of this fact, the researchers focussed on “why older women face higher mortality risk when the economy strengthens. They suggest that there may be cyclical changes in the quality, quantity, or nature of health care inputs, which may have a greater effect on women over age 65 because they use health care more intensively.”  Additionally, “The authors show that the employment of nursing aides, who are used more heavily by nursing homes and other skilled nursing facilities, falls when the economy strengthens, while the employment of more highly-skilled doctors and nurses rises.”

The researchers’ conclusion?  “Our findings provide new evidence that staffing difficulties among relatively low-skilled nursing occupations may be an important focus for efforts to improve the quality of health care.”

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