Why Austerity Kills is the subtitle of a new book – The Body Economic, by David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, published by Allen Lane. Written from the perspective of experts in Public Health, they mount a persuasive case that recession itself is not necessarily bad for health. What matters is the political response.
In brief, where there’s a New Deal type of response—investment in health, housing, and social security—people don’t die sooner. Where the response is austerity, the death rates (and other negative indicators) go up.
Moreover, a New Deal response leads to quicker economic recovery; austerity impedes recovery.
The book examines contrasting cases in depth: those US states which rejected New Deal policies versus those that didn’t; the Asian Tiger countries which accepted IMF austerity after their 1997 crash, as against Malaysia, which didn’t; likewise, more recently, Greece compared to Iceland and the US compared to the UK.
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