Study: Life and death during the Great Depression
September 28, 2009
The Great Depression had a silver lining: During that hard time, U.S. life expectancy actually increased by 6.2 years, according to a University of Michigan study published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Life expectancy rose from 57.1 in 1929 to 63.3 years in 1932, according to the analysis by
U-M researchers Josť A. Tapia Granados and Ana Diez Roux. The increase occurred for both men and women, and for whites and non-whites.
The researchers analyzed age-specific mortality rates and rates due to six causes of death that composed about two-thirds of total mortality in the 1930s: cardiovascular and renal diseases, cancer, influenza and pneumonia, tuberculosis, motor vehicle traffic injuries, and suicide. The association between improving health and economic slowdowns was true for all ages, and for every major cause of death except one: suicide.