Study: Elderly Mortality Rates Go Up When The Economy Is Good

Researchers at the Netherlands' Leyden Academy on Vitality and Aging admit to being "baffled" by the findings of a study that focused on citizens in 19 developed countries, including the US.

What's the Latest Development?

Researchers at the Netherlands' Leyden Academy on Vitality and Aging compared economic figures and mortality rates in 19 developed countries, including the US, Japan, and several in Europe. To their surprise, they found that with each single percentage point increase in a country's gross domestic product (GDP), mortality rose among people in their early 70s by 0.36 percent (for men) and 0.18 percent (for women). Similar statistics held true for people in their early 40s.

What's the Big Idea?

The study, published in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, says that given the current recession, increases in mortality rates would seem to make sense. However, the results show otherwise, and team member Herbert Rolden says they're not quite sure why. One possible theory could be that during times of economic prosperity, younger relatives work longer and have less time to care for their elders. For what it's worth, the researchers focused on short-term fluctuations; in the long term, good economies result in lower mortality rates across the board.

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