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News2009September › Recession may help you live longer › September 2009

Recession may help you live longer

There's one good piece of news about the current credit crunch and recession - it will probably mean you'll live longer

There's one good piece of news about the current credit crunch and recession - it will probably mean you'll live longer.

The Great Depression of the early 1930s added around six years to everyone's life expectancy, while the economic booms shortened life.

Life expectancy in the US rose from 57.1 years in 1929 to 63.3 years in 1932, according to research from the University of Michigan. The research, which spanned 20 years from 1920 to 1940, found that life expectancy dropped during times of strong economic expansion, such as in 1923, 1926, 1929 and 1936-7.

The researchers aren't sure why we live longer when there's a depression, but they think it could be associated with less spending money for alcohol and cigarettes, and also a less stressful work environment. Even the idea that being unemployed is bad for your health also seems to be untrue.

(Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2009; doi: 10.1073/pnas.0904491106).


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