THE BODY ECONOMIC by David Stuckler


Why Austerity Kills
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How budget-cutting responses to recession produce increases in death rates and epidemiclike breakdowns in public health.

Stuckler (Senior Research Leader/Oxford Univ.; co-author: Sick Societies: Responding to the Global Challenge of Chronic Disease, 2011) and Basu (Medicine/Prevention Research Center, Stanford Univ.) contrast the “large and long-lasting public health improvements” brought about by Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal with the documented effects of the austerity created by the Great Depression. They show how reversing what was well-established and returning to a one-size-fits-all austerity—whether in the form of the shock-therapy privatizations applied in the former Soviet Union or the IMF austerity imposed on the countries of Southeast Asia and the Republic of Korea in 1998—has led to poorer health conditions and an increase in death rates. The life expectancy of working-age males in Russia was reduced from 64 to 57 between 1991 and 1994, and the number of deaths in that age group set the country back demographically at least 20 years. In other areas, the authors examine deaths by suicide and from alcoholism, as well as the spreading of sexually transmitted diseases, which often accompany forced reductions in health programs. Stuckler and Basu also review austerity's effects on the British National Health Service and the effects of the housing crisis on America's health profile. Foreclosures and homelessness also contribute to the spreading of disease—for example, unmaintained, stagnant swimming pools in California have provided a breeding ground for the mosquito-borne West Nile Virus.

A dramatic study emphasizing some of the combined consequences of ideological obsessions and bureaucratic thoughtlessness.

Pub Date: May 21st, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-465-06398-7
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Basic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2013


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