Business cycle and mortality in Spain

María Cervini-Plá*, Judit Vall-Castelló

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


In the last couple of decades, there has been a lot of interest on the impact of macroeconomic fluctuations on health and mortality rates. Many studies, for different countries, find that mortality is procyclical. However, studies examining the effects of more recent recessions are less conclusive, finding mortality to be less procyclical, or even countercyclical. In this paper, using data of Spanish provinces from 1999 to 2016, we investigate how this relationship works in the context of a country that is subject to extreme business cycle fluctuations. Furthermore, we analyze the impact of unemployment for different mortality causes and we explore differences by sex, age group and level of education. In general terms, we find mortality to be procyclical so that when the economy is in a recession, mortality falls. When exploring mortality causes, we show that deaths from cardiovascular disease, cancer, senility, transport accidents and homicides are procyclical. By sex, we find procyclicality for both men and women. By age, mortality is procyclical for all age groups; however, the causes of death that result in this procyclical behavior are specific to each age group. By educational level, suicide appears as a countercyclical cause for individuals with intermediate levels of education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1289-1299
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Health Economics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Business cycle
  • Health
  • Mortality
  • Recessions


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