Monday, August 08, 2005

More on employment and the common weal

SOMEWHERE there exists research that reduces the unemployment rate to a straightforward algorithm for predicting the consequences: n points of additional unemployment produces x and y of so much other results.

I think I learned this in that distant age before the Internets, so I'm not turning it up quickly when I Google around for it. (Either that, or I simply lack the google fu to turn it up.) So instead of actually looking up the real research -- which MUST be out there -- I instead turn to a handy back-of-the-envelope for some quick calculations.

Take the recession under Bush the Greater - the overall mortality rate jumped from 8.5/1000 to 8.8/thousand, for about 3 years. (Yes, most of this persisted into the Clinton years; but I think it's likely that the death rate lags the economic circumstances, in both directions. People don't usually drop dead immediately after being laid off: they cut corners on their prescriptions, skip doctor's appointments, etc. The changes in the mortality rates must come a year or two later.)

Anyway, cranking this through, deaths were running around 2.1m/year, in a pop. of 275?m, so a change of 0.3/1000 must be about 65,000 additional deaths above the EV. Three years of this must easily go 200,000. Then factor in the fact that the EV for the death rate would reasonably have been expected to continue its historic decline (instead of the increase we actually got...).

Think of that: even a downturn as mild as the First Bush Recession may be said to have caused something like a quarter-million excess American deaths.

Why wasn't that on a "Clinton '92 " bumper sticker?

I'm almost afraid to run the numbers on the Reagan Depression.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home