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Health and Health Inequality during the Great Recession: Evidence from the PSID
We employ granular information on local macroeconomic conditions from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to estimate the impact of the Great Recession on health and health-related behaviors. Among working-aged adults, a one percentage point increase in the county-level unemployment rate resulted in a 2.4-3.2% increase in chronic drinking, a 1.8-1.9% decrease in mental health status, and a 7.8-8.9% increase in reports of poor health. Notably, there was heterogeneity in the impact of the recession across socioeconomic groups. Particularly, obesity and overweight rates increased for blacks and high school educated people, while there is weak evidence that they decreased for whites and the college educated. Along some dimensions, the Great Recession may have widened some socioeconomic health disparities in the United States.
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