Reining in government spending during a recession can be deadly, claims a NYTimes op-ed
that's drawing a lot of attention.
"Deaths from suicide overtook deaths from car crashes in 2009," write Prof. David Stuckler of Oxford University and Prof. Sanjay Basu of Stanford. The jobless are twice as likely to kill themselves as people with jobs, and that correlation has been recorded since the nineteenth century.
Suicides aren't just an unavoidable consequence of recessions, the NYTimes piece argues. They can be dialed up or down by government policy. Countries that have enacted austerity measures, like Greece, Italy, and Spain, have seen suicides spike compared to other countries like Germany, Iceland and Sweden "which maintained their social safety nets and opted for stimulus over austerity." Iceland suffered a severe recession but has seen no increase in the suicide rate.
In the US, prescriptions for antidepressants have soared since 2009 along with suicides, and preventive medical visits have dropped. Austerity creates long-term costs that make it self-defeating as well as fatal, the op-ed concludes.
Via the New York Times.