Budget austerity and its (lack of) effects on (Irish) health

The British Medical Journal has an article up detailing the effects of Ireland’s post-2008 budget austerity program on the nation’s health, including its mental health. It doesn’t look like there’s been much of a negative effect:

Ireland is – after Greece – the country where the post 2008 structural adjustment programme, aka austerity, has been proportionately most severe. Yet there are few indications that this has had a significant adverse effect on basis health indicators.

The crude death rate in 2012 was 6.3 per 1,000 compared with 6.4 in pre-austerity 2007. The suicide rate in 2012 was 12.8 per 100, 000 in 2012 compared with 13.2 in 2007. Admission rates for depressive disorders fell to 117 per 100, 000 in 2012 from 138 in 2007. The percentage distribution of self-assessed health status did not change between 2007 and 2010 (the latest available year).

Overall there is a striking lack of evidence that the major austerity programme implementd since 2007, and the concomitant trebling of the inemployment rate, has had a significant deleterious effect on the health of the Irish population. This evidence needs to be given due weight in international assessments of the impact of economic policies on public health.

It’s nice to see an analysis of non-economic effects of a major macroeconomic policy, especially one with similarities to the goings-on in many other developed countries. Much of the reporting and analysis on austerity discusses impacts in terms of GDP and unemployment. Those data are obviously important, and reflect aspects of a nation’s well-being, but are more attenuated than, e.g., health.

(h/t Marginal Revolution)

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