Health Resilience and Economic Shocks (HRES)

Principal Investigator: David Stuckler

Summary

This project is funded by the ERC and headed by Dr David Stuckler. The project aims to understand two interrelated questions: How will the recent economic downturns affect health in Europe? What can be done to mitigate potential negative sequences for health from these economic shocks?

One of the greatest temporary challenges for the social sciences is to understand the human costs of the ongoing financial, economic, and debt crises that began to emerge in Europe in 2007. While much attention has focused on the economic dimensions of recessions in Europe, very little work is being done to analyse the sequences of these events for health and well-being. There are widespread cerns that losses of housing, jobs, and income will have damaging effects on public health. Curiously, however, a growing body of social science research suggests that economic recessions may reduce death rates at a population level, such as by lowering the number of road-traffic injuries, alcohol-related deaths and hospital admissions. Hence, although there is universal agreement that economic shocks will affect health, there is considerable confusion about what the direction of this relationship is. This project aims to understand two interrelated questions: How will the recent economic downturns affect health in Europe? What can be done to mitigate potential negative sequences for health from these economic shocks? To answer these questions, the proposed research will draw on a secondary analysis of longitudinal household datasets and country-level economic and health data to estimate how job loss, poverty, debt, and housing foreclosures affect health. Then, drawing on a conceptual model of 'resilience', the project will seek to understand why certain groups have experienced better or worse health outcomes than others in the text of recession. The research will have important implications for policymakers seeking to protect health from ongoing economic risks and budget cuts, especially as recovery is projected to evolve slowly over the next decade.

Funding Provider

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European Research Council

Research Associates