It's hard to find a positive about a recession like the one in which the entire globe has found itself. Governments, strapped for cash, have been forced to declare bankruptcy, research has found that young people who enter the workforce during a recession take 10 years to make up for the wages that they had missed and, perhaps most importantly, people are out of work.
Now research has found yet another negative about a slouching economy: recessions can shorten your life. They found that the results are particularly pronounced for people in their 50s and 60s when a recession hits.
Courtney C. Coile, Phillip B. Levine, and Robin McKnight from Wellesley College examined mortality data between 1969 and 2008. Specifically, they looked at those Americans who were nearing retirement age as a recession hit. Though people younger than 57 and over 61 did not seem to be hit in a statistically significant way, researchers found that people between the ages of 57 and 61 were less likely to live into old age.
Their research held particularly true for people in that age group who had found themselves unemployed. A 58-year-old who found himself unemployed could expect as much as three years shaved off of his or her lifespan.
Researchers are not precisely sure why that happens, but they offer a few explanations. Older workers are more likely to suffer long bouts of unemployment during a recession, so are more likely to skip medical treatments due to cost. This, then, could have health ramifications later in life.
Adults over the age of 62 do not have to make the same health sacrifices, because they can rely on social security and, later on, Medicare to make up any income and health care they may have lost by losing a job.
This news could be particularly dire for the Baby Boomers, who are a disproportionate number of the long-term unemployed during this recession.