Quantifying the impact of economic crises on infant mortality in advanced economies

Marcus Alexander, Matthew Harding, Carlos Lamarche

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Policy makers rely on a mix of government spending and tax cuts to address the imbalances in the economy during an economic crisis, by promoting price stability and renewed economic growth. However, little discussion appears to focus explicitly on quantifying the cost of economic crises in terms of human lives, especially the lives of the most vulnerable members of society, infants. Using a statistical approach that is robust to the increases of mortality in outlying years, we quantify the effect that economic crises, periods of prolonged economic recession, have on infant mortality. Moreover, we investigate whether different levels of public spending on health across advanced industrialized democracies can mitigate the impact of crises on infant mortality. We find that economic crises are extremely costly and lead to a more than proportional increase in infant mortality in the short-run. Substantial public spending on health is required in order to limit their impact.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3313-3323
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Economics
Issue number24
StatePublished - Sep 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Nicholas Christakis, Jennifer Hochschild, Torben Iversen, Gary King, and seminar participants at Harvard Medical School and the Institute for Quantitative Social Science for useful comments. This work was partially supported by the Presidential Fund for Innovation in International Studies at Stanford University.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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