The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills

The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills

by David Stuckler, Sanjay Basu


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Politicians have talked endlessly about the seismic economic and social impacts of the recent financial crisis, but many continue to ignore its disastrous effects on human health—and have even exacerbated them, by adopting harsh austerity measures and cutting key social programs at a time when constituents need them most. The result, as pioneering public health experts David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu reveal in this provocative book, is that many countries have turned their recessions into veritable epidemics, ruining or extinguishing thousands of lives in a misguided attempt to balance budgets and shore up financial markets. Yet sound alternative policies could instead help improve economies and protect public health at the same time.

In The Body Economic, Stuckler and Basu mine data from around the globe and throughout history to show how government policy becomes a matter of life and death during financial crises. In a series of historical case studies stretching from 1930s America, to Russia and Indonesia in the 1990s, to present-day Greece, Britain, Spain, and the U.S., Stuckler and Basu reveal that governmental mismanagement of financial strife has resulted in a grim array of human tragedies, from suicides to HIV infections. Yet people can and do stay healthy, and even get healthier, during downturns. During the Great Depression, U.S. deaths actually plummeted, and today Iceland, Norway, and Japan are happier and healthier than ever, proof that public wellbeing need not be sacrificed for fiscal health.

Full of shocking and counterintuitive revelations and bold policy recommendations, The Body Economic offers an alternative to austerity—one that will prevent widespread suffering, both now and in the future.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465063987
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 05/21/2013
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 6.54(w) x 9.36(h) x 0.93(d)
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

Dr. David Stuckler is a Senior Research Leader at Oxford University and Honorary Research Fellow at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. He lives in Oxford, England.

Dr. Sanjay Basu is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and an epidemiologist at the Prevention Research Center of Stanford University. A former Rhodes Scholar, he lives in San Francisco.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Introduction xvii

Part I History

Chapter 1 Tempering the Great Depression 3

Chapter 2 The Post-Communist Mortality Crisis 21

Chapter 3 From Miracle to Mirage 41

Part II The Great Recession

Chapter 4 God Bless Iceland 57

Chapter 5 Greek Tragedy 77

Part III Resilience

Chapter 6 To Care or Not to Care 97

Chapter 7 Returning to Work 109

Chapter 8 A Plague on All Your Houses 123

Conclusion: Healing the Body Economic 139

Notes 147

Research Publications 201

Acknowledgments 205

Index 209

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