Seminar March 11, 2013
Business Cycles and Cardiovascular Disease: Evidence from the Icelandic Economic Collapse
Background: Business cycles affect people’s lives. A growing literature examines their effect on health outcomes. The available studies on the relationship between ambient economic conditions and cardiovascular health show mixed results. They are furthermore limited in their outcome measures, focusing mostly on mortality.
Methods: We examined the relationship between economic conditions and cardiovascular disease, using the sharp Icelandic economic collapse of 2008. Furthermore, potential mediators of this relationship were investigated. The data used come from the health and lifestyle survey carried out by the Public Health Institute of Iceland in 2007 and 2009. A stratified random sample of 9,807 individuals 18-79 years old received questionnaires and a total of 42.1% answered in both waves. Logit regression analyses are used to examine if there is a relationship between the economic conditions and the probability of reporting a cardiovascular disease or condition.
Results: The crisis was positively related to hypertension and total cardiovascular disease in males but no statistically significant relationship was found for females. The mediation analyses indicated mediation through changes in working hours and stress level for males in the relationship between the crisis and hypertension, and between the crisis and total cardiovascular disease. For males, changes in income partly explained the increased probability of cardiovascular disease or condition after the crisis.
Conclusions: Only examining mortality effects of society-wide economic conditions may understate the overall effect on cardiovascular health.
Keywords: cardiovascular disease, crisis, economic conditions, hypertension, Iceland.
Contact: Associate Professors Battista Severgnini and Cedric Schneider