Book: The Body Economic, Why Austerity Kills
tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Sun Mar 9 13:12:31 GMT 2014
The Body Economic by David Stuckler, MPH, PhD and Sanjay Basu, MD, PhD
Politicians have talked endlessly about the
seismic economic and social impacts of the Great
Recession, but many continue to ignore its
disastrous effects on human healthand 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 political
mismanagement of financial crises has resulted in
a grim array of human tragedies, from suicides to
HIV infections to West Nile Virus and
tuberculosis epidemics. 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 financial shocks do not
inevitably wreak havoc on public health.
Full of shocking and counter intuitive
revelations and bold policy recommendations,The
Body Economic offers an alternative to
austerityone that will prevent widespread
suffering, both now and in the future.
a clip about the book from Democracy Now! featuring the authors.
[Stuckler and Basu] make a convincing case for
the deleterious effects of austerity policies and
suggest an alternative approach that would prevent such widespread suffering.
Paul D. Cleary, Dean, Yale School of Public
Health, summer reading recommendations
Austerity kills and on a grand scale. So argue
David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu in The Body
Economic, a powerful attack on efforts to curb
public spending since the financial crisis, which
holds belt-tightening politicians responsible for
a health catastrophe.... [B]y telling the stories
of individual victims of austerity as well as
analyzing its impact at the population level,
Stuckler and Basu provide a wealth of evidence
that it is bad for our health. That is a valuable
contribution to the current debate.
Clive Cookson, Financial Times
Stuckler and Basu provide a capable summary of
the basic problems with austerity economics as
economics, but their signal contribution in this
book is to focus on the health effects of
austerity.... [T]hey find that, the more
austerity was practiced in a state or country,
the more people got sick and the more people
died. In short, Austerity Kills is more than
just a slogan. Austerity doesnt work as
economics, and it kills people in the bargain.
Ruy Teixeira, The New Republic
What price a healthy stock market? In this
stringent economic analysis, sociologist David
Stuckler and epidemiologist Sanjay Basu argue
that during a recession, austerity-based cuts to
social spending erode public health.... A
sobering call for democratic, informed choices in response to recession.
Meticulously researched and richly annotated,
The Body Economic is nonetheless a very
accessible and engaging book. The authors succeed
admirably in making the case that downsizing (or
dismantling) the social safety nets that exist to
protect those in need directly leads to increased
sickness and death within the general
population.... Stuckler and Basu persuasively
demonstrate that economic austerity adversely
affects the health of all citizens, and not just
of those who directly rely upon
government-provided services.... Stuckler and
Basu have done us a great service by leaving
ideology aside and presenting for us the
consequences that these decisions have had for
others and may have for us as well.... The
lessons contained within The Body Economic should
be carefully considered by both policy makers and
constituents, so we can avoid the tragic results
seen in places where ideology and doctrine were
allowed to trump one of the most basic principles
of a functioning society: the implicit
understanding that its members need to look out
for one another in times of need.
The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills, is 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
[W]ell-written and engaging.... Stuckler & Basu
make a convincing case that the austerity
currently being implemented around the world is
driven more by a political ideology that rejects
the very notion of big government than any
particular evidence. Indeed, the evidence they
present almost universally supports their
conclusion that austerity is bad for economic
recovery and bad for public health.
Jean Adams, PLOS Blogs, Speaking of Medicine
[The Body Economic] is an admirable work,
eminently readable and yet without skimping on rigorous analysis.
In The Body Economic, David Stuckler and Sanjay
Basu lay out in stark terms what the recession
and the economic policies chosen to deal with it
have done or failed to do for human health in
countries around the world.... Throughout the
book, Stuckler and Basu rely on economic studies,
most of them subjected to peer review, to
underline a critical point: public health is
economic health. Far from being the luxury the
IMF categorizes it as, public health spending is
in fact necessary to the economic recovery of a
country in recession. The Body Economic makes the
point in stark and accessible terms..... [A]
thoroughly researched look into the effects of
austerity policies on public health.
Shelf Awareness for Readers
[A] startling new book.... From mining data sets
over the past century across the world, the
numbers show the hidden cost of health spending cuts.
Metro New York
[Stuckler and Basu] wear their expertise and
statistical knowledge lightly, opting to deliver
their research findings in a jazzy, casual
tone.... The real power of the book lies in the
epidemiological insight that its possible to
think about medicine not in the exclusive terms
of the individual patients life, but by tracking
the conditions that affect health throughout society.
[A] disturbing new book by two public-health
experts [that] documents the human toll of
austerity measures a viewpoint too often
overlooked in the bloodless discussion of stabilizing fiscal balances.
Darrell Delamaide, MarketWatch
Drs. Stuckler and Basu take a rigorous,
insightful, and approachable look at the
mountains of data that have accumulated as a
result of the large-scale austerity experiment.
Building off a growing academic literature, they
build a strong case for the subtitle of their
book: that austerity both suppresses economic
growth and decimates population health.
Duncan Maru, Global Health Hub
As the subtitle suggests, the authors argue that
the choice between stimulus and austerity, in
response to an economic shock, can literally be
one between life and death.... The central point
made by Stuckler and Basu is that the health
effects of economic shocks are not immutable....
Reflecting their background in public health,
Stuckler and Basu present the adoption or
rejection of austerity policies as a clinical
trial, one in which we have all been enrolled
without any requirement for informed consent, and
arguably, at least, without any meaningful
consent at all.... Stuckler and Basu make a
persuasive case.... The results are clear: Austerity really is bad for us.
John Quiggin, Chronicle Review
This informative book will add important
perspective to the ongoing debate on the consequences of economic policies.
A dramatic study emphasizing some of the
combined consequences of ideological obsessions
and bureaucratic thoughtlessness.
Public health experts David Stuckler and Dr.
Sanjay Basu draw on data from the Great
Depression through the collapse of Communism and
the Asian meltdown of the 90s to the ongoing
European financial crises to argue that when it
comes to your health, its not just the economic
downturn, but what your government does about it.
Some of the findings are grim.
Toronto Star (Canada)
[T]his is a 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, The Observer (UK)
After three years of deep cuts, few Britons
would dispute that austerity is painful whether
or not they share ministers belief that it is
the cure for our economic ills. But David
Stuckler and Sanjay Basus claim is more
shocking: that such policies are literally
killing us, and that the Government knows it....
The authors conclusion: it is not recession or
even joblessness that makes people sicker but the
official response to austerity.
Andrew Neather, The Evening Standard (UK)
Far too many books are described as seminal
but The Body Economic: How Austerity Kills, by
David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, really could
be.... There are three reasons for supposing the
book will have a huge impact. First, timing: it
adds intellectual ballast to Keynesians when
theyre already ahead. Second, Stuckler himself.
A terrifyingly prolific young academic with more
than 100 published articles, he is softly spoken,
looks like the absent fourth member of Green Day,
and is coveted by Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard.
Third, approach. Stuckler and Basu are in the van
of a movement to recast economics as a matter of
life and death. Thats what health outcomes
really means.... [W]e should organize a massive
lovebombing of Treasury and IMF officials with copies of The Body Economic.
Amol Rajan, The Evening Standard (UK)
[Stucklers] message...is explosive, backed by a
decade of research, and based on reams of
publicly available data.... In a powerful new
book, The Body Economic, Stuckler and his
colleague Sanjay Basu...show that austerity is
now having a devastating effect on public
health in Europe and North America.
Jon Henly, The Guardian (UK)
The Great Recessions visible
costsbankruptcies, foreclosures, unemployment,
government deficitsand their still-lingering
effects are chillingly well-known. Less
understood are the health consequencesthe
suicides, epidemics, and soaring mortality
ratesthat represent the most intimate human
effects not just of our global financial collapse
but also of the mistaken austerity programs that
have followed. The Body Economic is required
reading for anyone who wants to see how bad
politics and worse policies have worsened
suffering around the world when, by any
democratic measure, our common obligation is to end suffering.
Richard Parker, Lecturer in Public Policy and
Senior Fellow, Shorenstein Center at Harvard
Kennedy School, and author of John Kenneth
Galbraith: His Life, His Politics, His Economics
The Body Economic is must reading for anyone who
wants to understand the real life consequences of
governments making the wrong policy decisions in
response to the worst economic disruption since
the Great Depression. In a debate too often
dominated by ideology, Stuckler and Basu bring a
refreshing, evidence-based perspective to the
table. And, they present their casethat an
obsession with austerity hurts both economies and
peoplein an accessible, personal way. This isnt
a story about spreadsheets and algorithmsits
about the ordinary people who pay the ultimate
price for their governments cavalier ideological obsessions.
Darrell J. Bricker, CEO, Ipsos Public Affairs,
and author of The Big Shift: The Seismic Change
in Canadian Politics, Business, and Culture and What It Means for Our Future
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, MD, PhD, Kolokotrones University
Professor, Harvard Medical School, and Founding Director, Partners in Health
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, PhD, Faculty of Economics,
Cambridge University, and author of 23 Things
They Dont Tell You About Capitalism
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