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Crises and mortality: Does the level of unemployment matter?

Ioannis Laliotis () and Charitini Stavropoulou

Social Science & Medicine, 2018, vol. 214, issue C, 99-109

Abstract: The relationship between mortality and economic fluctuations has been a topic of long interest, which intensified following the 2008 global financial crisis. We study whether mortality responds non-linearly and asymmetrically to unemployment in the context of national economic crises. Although these assumptions have been challenged in other domains, they have been neglected in the mortality literature. Greece offers an ideal setting as unemployment was decreasing until mid-2008, but then it was sharply increased as a result of a severe economic crisis. We use quarterly data on regional unemployment and mortality from 1999 to 2013, giving a balanced panel of 780 observations. We find evidence of a countercyclical total mortality, especially for the older groups, and a further deteriorating crisis effect. We provide evidence that the relationship is non-linear and asymmetric, suggesting that the effect on death rates changes for very high values of unemployment and depends on its direction. Both non-linearity and asymmetry are mainly driven by those above 65 years old. The results suggest that the mechanisms explaining these effects are likely to vary across age groups. Our findings have important methodological implications and suggest that empirical investigations on fluctuations, recessions and mortality should not ignore possible non-linear and asymmetric behaviours, especially during turbulent times.

Keywords: Greece; Mortality; Unemployment; Crisis; Non-linearity; Asymmetry (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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