In a routine, short-run economic downturn, people tend to adopt more healthy behaviors. You quit smoking and cut back on the drinking because … well, maybe to save money and maybe because you tend to focus more on the essentials and live less indulgently. But our current long, lingering economic malaise seems to have pushed people toward unhealthy choices. For release, perhaps, or from a fatalistic sense that things may not get better and so what.
As Raya Muttarak writes on the NEXUS blog:
[the] current global economic recession is the worst economic recession in contemporary history … in a new study we found out that in fact, its consequences for health are very different from previous economic downturns. Since 2008, the number of smokers has increased substantially along with the increase in unemployed people.
Lower employment, reduced incomes, disappointment and demoralization leading to more smoking related illness and, thus, more people needing medical care.
Thank God there is Obamacare ...