People living in developed countries tend to live less compared to those living in countries whose economy is not working very well. It was a “highly unexpected” conclusion, as one of the scientists who conducted the study said.
It was thought that economic development brings along, in the long term, lower mortality rates across all age groups – largely due to a drop in old-age mortality. But the situation changes when the short-term economic fluctuations are analyzed, according to the study which appears in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
The finding was “highly unexpected”, Herbert Rolden from the Leyden Academy on Vitality and Ageing in the Netherlands, said, according to the international press.
For every rise of one percentage point in a country’s gross domestic product, mortality among 70-74-year-old men rose by 0.36 percent and for women of the same age by 0.18 percent, the study found.
19 developed countries were analyzed in the study, including Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the United States and several in Europe, with mortality and economic growth figures being studied from 1950 to 2008.
“Since many developed countries are currently in a recession, one could expect that this has a dampening effect on old age survival,” says the study.
“However, it has been found that annual increases in unemployment, or decreases in gross domestic product (GDP) are associated with lower mortality rates.”
Scientists do not know how to explain the result, but some of their suppositions point at changes in social structure, with younger relatives and friends working longer and having less time to care for the elderly. Another theory blames the air pollution, which grows during economic development.