It doesn't seem possible that a recession would make you live longer. After all, while life is more important than money, you need money to buy the things that keep you alive. So in turbulent economic times, you would expect the life expectancy of the population to lower as unemployment increases and nobody can afford to pay for doctors and Flintstones vitamins. Also, instead of eating expensive fresh fruit and vegetables, we subsist on the warm bowl of salt and fat we call ramen noodles. But the statistics show that, incredibly, economic hardship actually increases life expectancy.
"My sewer rat and cigar butt soup is a natural elixir."
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the death rate in the U.S. declined and life expectancy rose during the whole financial collapse from 2007 to 2010. And it's not just coincidence, either. According to one expert, the numbers are oddly specific -- every percentage point increase in unemployment translates to 12,000 fewer deaths per year. And we've seen it in the past, too -- during the peak years of the Great Depression, life expectancy grew by six years. That's not 0.6 years; we mean six actual years.
So what's going on here? Are people actually dying but opting for a fireplace cremation so their deaths go unreported? Does God hate poors and not want them in heaven?
"He told me to come back when I have a job, then called me a hippie and threw change in my face."
None of the above. While suicide rates do rise during tough times, just about every other kind of fatality drops. Fewer people can afford to go out, so fewer cars are on the road. Boom -- fewer traffic fatalities. Unhealthy vices like cigarettes, liquor and restaurant food become luxuries.