Good news: Economic devastation may improve your health

Ruhm found that “people actually eat healthier, overall, during a recession, and they are less likely to be obese,” possibly because they eat out less frequently. He also said people exercise more when times are hard because they have more time and, feeling more powerless, want to take control of other areas of their life, “so you take steps to get healthier.” He told CFO magazine that a one percent increase in the unemployment rate reduces mortality rates by half a percent, with heart attacks decreasing by slightly less than a half a percent. Traffic deaths decline by 3 percent because fewer people are commuting and drinking is down. And there are fewer smokers, which in the long term has a big impact on mortality rates (President Obama, a loathsome smoker, please note).