Drive less, live longer

Part of our story on the Joy of Frugality in the latest issue of the magazine looks at the question of whether economic downturns can actually be good for your health. Several researchers, including Christopher Ruhm at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, have dug into the numbers. And they’ve found that yes, recessions (in the short term at least) can make you live longer.

For instance, when unemployment rises, there are fewer cars and trucks on the road, hence less smog, and more important, a decrease in traffic fatalities.

Down in California they’re seeing a dramatic drop off in highway usage. At first, economists throught it was just a result of high gasoline prices, but now the realization is setting in that the slowing economy is behind the decline in highway use. Still no word yet on whether this has cut the number of accidents, but if the research is any indication, that’s a likely result.

H/T Paul Kedrosky

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