A bad economy leads to a longer life

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The Future. “Lives vs. Livelihoods,” a new study led by health economist Amy Finkelstein, argues that recessions have a weird way of being good for our health. Why? Because overall pollution is down due to less driving, less factory work, and less overall energy use. The finding could spur legislation that ties economic growth incentives with hitting benchmarks in sustainability.

All work and no play…
Economic stress has a strange way of being good for our health because of how good it is for the environment — specifically lowering the level of the particulate matter known as PM2.5.

The study found…

  • During the Great Recession (2007 to 2009), the age-adjusted mortality rates of Americans dropped 0.5% every time the unemployment rate increased 1%.
  • The longevity benefits were so immediate that the cumulative effect was that 4% of 55-year-olds received an extra year of life.
  • The positive effects were especially true for adults over 65 with no college education because they tend to live in places with a higher concentration of pollutants.

The study concludes that there are “important trade-offs between economic activity and mortality” to consider. Similar research has already led to the rise of the degrowth movement, which Insider describes as “the idea that the gross domestic product doesn’t provide us with an accurate read on human progress.”

At the heart of the matter is not that industries are too big to fail. They may be too big to survive.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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