Feature

The upside of economic downturn

The global financial crisis &ldquo;might actually be a blessing,&rdquo; said Alice Thomson in <em>The Times.</em>

Alice ThomsonThe Times

Don’t let the recession get you down, said Alice Thomson. Economic hardship is good for you—at least that’s what the scientists say. Studies show that during boom times, people tend to drink to excess and overeat. But in downturns, people “tend to drink less, smoke fewer cigarettes, and lose weight.” Also, those who have lost their jobs end up having “more time to visit their elderly relatives” and “look after their children themselves,” so families grow closer. Because people drive less, there are fewer car accidents and less smog. And since we consume less, more resources get recycled rather than ending up in landfills. You may be willing to trade all these positives for the happiness of having financial security—except that boom times don’t make people any happier. Official British statistics show that “levels of contentment” have stayed the same for the past 10 years and are lower than during the recession of the 1970s. The global financial crisis “might actually be a blessing.”

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