The Body Economic is the first, agenda-shaping, look at the human costs of financial crisis - the culmination of ten years' work by two pioneering researchers - Sanjay Basu and David Stuckler
The global financial crisis has had a seismic impact upon the wealth of nations. But we have little sense of how it affects one of the most fundamental issues of all: our physical and mental health.
This highly significant new book, based on the authors' own groundbreaking research, looks at the daily lives of people affected by financial crisis, from the Great Depression of the 1930s, to post-communist Russia, to the US foreclosure crisis of the late 2000s. Why, it asks, did Sweden experience a fall in suicides during its banking crisis? What triggered a mosquito-borne epidemic in California in 2007? What caused 10 million Russian men to 'disappear' in the 1990s? Why is Greece experiencing rocketing HIV rates? And how did the health of Americans actually improve during the catastrophic crisis of the 1930s? The conclusions it draws are both surprising and compelling: remarkably, when faced with similar crises, the health of some societies - like Iceland - improves, while that of others, such as Greece, deteriorates. Even amid the worst economic disasters, negative public health effects are not inevitable: it's how communities respond to challenges of debt and market turmoil that counts.
The Body Economic puts forward a radical proposition. Austerity, it argues, is seriously bad for your health. We can prevent financial crises from becoming epidemics, but to do so, we must acknowledge what the hard data tells us: that, throughout history, there is a causal link between the strength of a community's health and its social protection systems. Now and for generations to come, our commitment to the building of fairer, more equal societies will determine the health of our body economic.
'A powerful and important contribution to our future. Stuckler and Basu use statistics not to dehumanize people, but to bring them to life' Ha-Joon Chang, author of 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism
'Explosive ... powerful. Backed by a decade of research, and based on reams of publicly available data... The Body Economic should come as a broadside, morally armour-plated and data-reinforced', Jon Henley, Guardian
'A powerful indictment of the unnecessary suffering and rising mortality rates associated with austerity policies unsoftened by remedial social programmes. I hope the finance ministers read it, and try mixing with the ordinary people, who are the only ones who can bring about economic recovery'
Harry Eyres, Financial Times
'A surprisingly readable book with a compassionate tone. The inclusion of stories about ordinary individuals affected by austerity lends it a poignancy not typically found in economics literature'
Iain Morris, Observer
'Economist David Stuckler and epidemiologist Sanjay Basu have spent years correlating government policy and health statistics ... the data is as convincing as the stories are harrowing ... every country that has followed an economic crash with austerity has had a public health catastrophe' Richard Godwin, Evening Standard
'Far too many books are described as seminal, but The Body Economic really could be ... Stuckler and Basu are in the vanguard of a movement to recast economics as a matter of life and death ... We should organise a massive love-bombing of Treasury and IMF officials with copies of The Body Economic' Amol Rajan, Evening Standard
'The Body Economic is a bold synthesis of quantitative data, historical cases, personal narratives, and sociological and clinically informed analyses about the effects of investing, or failing to invest, in public health safety nets. In investigating the causes of adverse health outcomes in populations from the United States to the Soviet Union to Greece, Iceland, and the UK, David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu expose many of the myths and mystifications that prop up the regnant ideologies of fiscal austerity. Stuckler and Basu revive the great, progressive tradition of social medicine. Their work is important not just for all those who deliver health care services, but also for anyone who might, just might, one day be a patient' Paul Farmer, M.D., Kolokotrones University Professor, Harvard Medical School, and Founding Director, Partners in Health
David Stuckler is a Senior Research Leader at Oxford University; after completing his Master's in Public Health at Yale University and PhD at Cambridge University, he became a professor in political economy at Harvard University; he also currently holds research posts at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Chatham House. He has published over one-hundred peer-reviewed scientific articles in major journals on the subjects of economics and global health, and his work has featured on the cover of The New York Times and The Economist, as well as on BBC, NPR, and CNN, among others. Sanjay Basu is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and an epidemiologist at Stanford University. He has worked with Oxfam International and is a member of the New York Academy of Sciences. His work has featured in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal and he has written over 80 peer-reviewed articles.