Death rates increase for management during bad economic periods

Management could be bad for your health, according to a study into the connection between death rates and the economic climate.

A study in Japan found periods of economic stagnation or collapse led to an increase in death rates.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, analysed death rates of Japanese men in senior professional positions over a 30-year period.

It found a substantial difference in death rates between managers and people lower down the pecking order.

The authors of the study attribute the higher death rates to the period of economic stagnation in Japan between 1980 and 2005 and warn that countries need to be aware of the connection between a county's health and its economy.

They found that mortality rates for all men aged between 30 and 59 steadily decreased between 1980 and 2005, with the exception of management and professional workers, which showed an increase.

Blue-collar workers and those in clerical positions had the lowest death rates.

"The rate for suicide has rapidly increased since the late 1990s, with the greatest increase being among management and professional workers," the study reads.

"Occupational patterns in cause-specific mortality changed dramatically in Japan during the period of its economic stagnation and resulted in the reversal of occupational patterns in mortality that have been well established in Western countries.

"A significant negative effect on the health of management and professional workers rather than clerks and blue-collar workers could be because of increased job demands and more stressful work environments and could have eliminated or even reversed the health inequality across occupations that had existed previously."

Health risks associated with high job demands are thought to become more prevalent at times of austerity and economic stress, with an increase in heavy drinking, a drop in exercise levels and stress-eating.

The authors claim that the changes recorded in Japan serve as a reminder that "the health gains in modern societies may not be guaranteed and could be vulnerable to sudden socioeconomic changes".

The study, carried out at the Kitasato University School of Medicine in Kanagawa collected data on death rates and occupation from the Japanese ministry of health.