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The Human Cost of Economic Crises

Marcus Alexander, Matthew Harding () and Carlos Lamarche
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Marcus Alexander: Harvard University

No 08-029, Discussion Papers from Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research

Abstract: Policy makers rely on a mix of government spending and tax cuts to address imbalances in the economy during an economic crisis. However, little discussion appears to focus explicitly on the costs of economic crises in terms of human lives, especially the lives of the most vulnerable members of society, infants. This paper quantifies the effect periods of prolonged economic recession have on infant mortality. Moreover, we investigate whether different levels of public spending on health across advanced industrialized democracies can mitigate the impact of crises on infant mortality. We find that economic crises are extremely costly and lead to a more than proportional increase in infant mortality in the short-run. Substantial public spending on health is required in order to limit their impact.

Keywords: economic crisis; infant mortality; quantile regression; forecasting (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2009-03
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