Recessions good for male and bad for female health

Recessions may be good for your health later on if you are male but bad if you are female, researchers from the London School of Economics and Political Science wrote.

According to a study carried out by Philipp Hessel and Dr. Mauricio Avendano, males who leave university or school during a recession enjoy better health later on in life compared to those who do so during a boom, “but the situation is reversed for females.”

The study – Are economic recessions at the time of leaving school associated with worse physical functioning in later life? – has been published in the journal Annals of Epidemiology1.

Does this mean that young European adult men today will have relatively better health later on compared to their counterparts in 2006/2007?

According to the latest figures published by the European Commission, youth unemployment stands at 24.4%, a record high.

Recessions make young men adopt healthier lifestyles

Hessel and Avendano explain that young men adopt health lifestyles during recessions which persist throughout their lives, resulting in better overall health health when they are older.

When young men have less money, they smoke, drink and overeat less, and are more physically active. “They (recessions) can also encourage some to become more motivated to achieve and become independent earlier, leading to better long-term career prospects and therefore better health.”

Females who leave school or university during recessions, however, are more likely to get married and have children earlier, causing them to leave their jobs; their worse long-term career prospects lead to poorer long-term health.

Women who never enter the labor market or work part-time are more vulnerable to poverty, especially if their partner leaves them.

Hessel said:

“The recent financial crisis has led to a sharp increase in youth unemployment rates in many European countries, with Spain and Greece experiencing rates as high as 40 per cent for those under 25. Recent reports have warned of the emergence of a “lost generation” of young people who are unable to make the transition from education to work and who will therefore suffer poor future career prospects and substantial earning losses up to 15 years after leaving school or university.”

“This research has, for the first time, shown that youth unemployment appears to affect the long-term health of men and women quite differently.”

Avendano added:

“The interesting element of this paper is the idea that health may be more vulnerable to recessions if experienced during specific sensitive periods in the life-course. Our results suggest that the transition from school to work might be one of such sensitive periods, with recessions in young adulthood affecting long-term career, fertility and health trajectories, and ultimately health in later life.”