Research Highlights

Changing Relationship between Unemployment and Mortality in South Korea

  • Author : Chulhee Lee and Kyeongbae Kim
  • Journal : Health Economics / 26 (2017), 1630-1636


Over the period from 1989 to 2012, total mortality in South Korea shifted from being weakly procyclical or unrelated to the economy to strongly countercyclical in the early 2000s. Cancers played a significant role in changing the direction of the effects of unemployment on mortality. The overall pattern of the effects of macroeconomic conditions on mortality in South Korea roughly follows the corresponding changes observed in the United States. We have provided evidence that the sudden change in the relationship between economic conditions and mortality was driven by diseases with higher and rapidly rising treatment costs.