The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills

Front Cover
Basic Books, May 21, 2013 - Business & Economics - 240 pages
Politicians have talked endlessly about the seismic economic and social impacts of the recent financial crisis, but many continue to ignore its disastrous effects on human health—and have even exacerbated them, by adopting harsh austerity measures and cutting key social programs at a time when constituents need them most. The result, as pioneering public health experts David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu reveal in this provocative book, is that many countries have turned their recessions into veritable epidemics, ruining or extinguishing thousands of lives in a misguided attempt to balance budgets and shore up financial markets. Yet sound alternative policies could instead help improve economies and protect public health at the same time.

In The Body Economic, Stuckler and Basu mine data from around the globe and throughout history to show how government policy becomes a matter of life and death during financial crises. In a series of historical case studies stretching from 1930s America, to Russia and Indonesia in the 1990s, to present-day Greece, Britain, Spain, and the U.S., Stuckler and Basu reveal that governmental mismanagement of financial strife has resulted in a grim array of human tragedies, from suicides to HIV infections. Yet people can and do stay healthy, and even get healthier, during downturns. During the Great Depression, U.S. deaths actually plummeted, and today Iceland, Norway, and Japan are happier and healthier than ever, proof that public wellbeing need not be sacrificed for fiscal health.

Full of shocking and counterintuitive revelations and bold policy recommendations, The Body Economic offers an alternative to austerity—one that will prevent widespread suffering, both now and in the future.


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BRILLIANT! This book is a MUST READ!

User Review  - msa828 -

This is a BRILLIANT book by and up and coming economist Dr. David Stuckler. This is the MUST READ of 2013! This book will change your perspective and your life! ORDER IMMEDIATELY! Read full review

THE BODY ECONOMIC: Why Austerity Kills

User Review  - Kirkus

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 ... Read full review


Tempering the Great Depression
The PostCommunist Mortality Crisis
From Miracle to Mirage
God Bless Iceland
Greek Tragedy
Returning to Work
A Plague on All Your Houses
Healing the Body Economic
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About the author (2013)

Dr. David Stuckler is a Senior Research Leader at Oxford University and Honorary Research Fellow at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. He lives in Oxford, England.

Dr. Sanjay Basu is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and an epidemiologist at the Prevention Research Center of Stanford University. A former Rhodes Scholar, he lives in San Francisco.

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