Study findings show that a rise of 3 percent in unemployment is associated with a 4.5 percent increase in suicides and a 28 percent increase in deaths from alcohol abuse in the population younger than age 65. A key government program may be effective at preventing these deaths, according to the research team.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco; University of Oxford, and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Because of widespread concern that the present economic crisis, particularly its effect on unemployment, will adversely affect population health, the research team investigated how economic changes have affected mortality rates over the past three decades in European Union countries. The team also identified government actions that could modify the health effects of economic stability.
"Financial crisis causes economic hardship for many people, but it does not have to cost them their lives. Our data suggests that investments in job creation and retention programs may be key to preventing a rise in deaths during recession," said study co-author Sanjay Basu, a resident physician in the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
The research team found that if a government spent above $190 per person per year in "active labor market programs" (programs that help unemployed people quickly enter new jobs or retain work) then a mass rise in unemployment would be unlikely to increase mortality rates. These active labor programs were more effective at protecting public health during recessions than many current alternative government proposals, such as hospitalization programs or pension adjustments, the researchers noted.
MEDICA.de; Source: University of California, San Francisco