"The mechanisms involved may be different in intensity and severity, (but) based on the study it seems like there would be some effects," Dr. Seethalakshmi Ramanathan, a researcher at State University of New York Upstate Medical University and the lead author of the study told Reuters.
The study, which was published online this week in JAMA Psychiatry, used data from 8,984 people born between January 1, 1980, and December 31, 1984, who had participated in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, when they were 12 to 17 years old. There were two recessions in the 1980s, from 1980 to 1981 and then another in 1982.
The BLS' survey included questions about education, income, attitudes, expectations, thefts, arrests, drug use, alcohol use, gun use, and cigarette use, among other things. Ramanathan and her team found that certain destructive and delinquent behaviors were more common among kids who were born in areas affected by high unemployment rates. (A recession is defined as a general slowdown in economic activity with drops in Gross Domestic Product levels, incomes, business profits, and inflation while unemployment and bankruptcy rates rise; measuring the unemployment rate is one way to judge the severity of a recession in a given area.)