Sunday, January 24, 2021

Lockdown recession could kill 890,000 in U.S.

Unemployment During the Pandemic Expected to Cause 900,000 US Deaths, New Economic Study Finds | Foundation for Economic Education - John Miltimore: 

January 19, 2021 - "The toll of the coronavirus has been severe. But a new study has found that the collective response to the virus may ultimately claim more lives than the virus itself. In a new National Bureau [of] Economic Research paper, researchers from Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, and Duke University concluded that a staggering 890,000 additional deaths may result over the next 15 years stemming from actions taken to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“'Our results suggest that the toll of lives claimed by the SARS-CoV-2 virus far exceeds those immediately related to the acute COVID-19 critical illness and that the recession caused by the pandemic can jeopardize population health for the next two decades,' the researchers said. Specifically, the researchers cite unemployment spikes from lockdowns and other government restrictions that were two to five times larger than typical unemployment shocks. The findings are, to say the least, disheartening.

"Yet, the findings should not be surprising. Rising unemployment has long been correlated with higher death rates. A 1979 study concluded that for every 10 percent increase in unemployment, mortality increased by 1.2 percent. For this reason, social scientists have long argued that employment and economic growth are essential components of a healthy society.

"'Economic growth is the single most important factor relating to length of life,' said Yale School of Medicine professor M. Harvey Brenner in 2002, following completion of a pivotal study exploring the relationship between unemployment and mortality. 'Employment is the essential element of social status and it establishes a person as a contributing member of society and also has very important implications for self-esteem.'

"The Yale study’s findings are not unique. A 2014 article in Harvard Public Health magazine points to an abundance of research that reaches a similar conclusion: employment disruptions come with severe costs to mental and physical health. The body of research includes a 2011 meta-analysis — published in Social Science & Medicine — that concluded the mortality risk was 63 percent higher for individuals who experienced unemployment than those who did not....

"There are a multitude of reasons mortality risk increases during periods of unemployment, but the primary reason appears to be that unemployment literally makes people sick. A 2009 study by sociologist Kate W. Strully in the journal Demography concluded that losing employment from a business closure increased by more than 80 percent the risk of new health conditions.... These conditions included stress-related ailments such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, and arthritis, as well as various emotional and psychiatric conditions.

"There seems to be little debate that employment is not just a matter of cashing checks, but also of health and wellness. This is why last April I warned the historic surge in unemployment could have a profound impact on human health and lives. At the time, fear of the virus had gripped so many that the long-term consequences of lockdowns were rarely discussed, let alone acknowledged. This is a mistake, authors of the NBER paper say....

"This conversation is particularly important in the wake of new findings that show the steep costs of lockdowns may have had no clear benefits. A recently published study in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation evaluating global COVID-19 responses found that mandatory lockdowns failed to provide significantly more benefits than voluntary measures.... Numerous other studies reached similar conclusions. NBER researchers, however, accepted the premise that lockdowns work — albeit with deadly tradeoffs."

Read more:

Read study: Francesco Bianchi, Giada Bianchi, Dongho Song, "The Long-Term Impact of the COVID-19 Unemployment Shock on Life Expectancy and Mortality Rates." NBER Working Paper 28304.

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