Overview: Economic crises and human development

  • Pedro Conceição United Nations Development Programme
  • Namsuk Kim United Nations Development Programme
  • Yanchun Zhang United Nations Development Programme
Keywords: human development, economic crisis, developing countries
JEL Classification: O11, O15, O47


In order to better understand the potential impact of the current global economic crisis on human development, we explore how human development indicators have been affected in past economic shocks. The literature on the human development impacts of short-term economic fluctuations suggest some stylized facts. First, there exists an asymmetry between rich and poor countries in terms of the magnitude of impacts of economic crises: Health and education outcomes in rich countries often improve during economic crises, while they deteriorate in poor countries. Second, economic expansions have less significant effects than economic contractions: the recovery in human development indicators is not as rapid and steep (if it occurs at all) as the deterioration that occurred during the economic downturn.


Attanasio, Orazio P. and Miguel Székely. 1998. Household Saving and Income Distribution in Mexico, Working Paper, no. 390, Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, D.C.

Baird, Sarah, Jed Friedman and Norbert Schady. 2007. Aggregate Income Shock and Infant Mortality in the Developing World, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, no. 4346, Worl Bank, Washington, D.C.

Banerjee, Abhijit V. and Esther Duflo. 2007. Againg and Death under a Dollar a Day, NBER Working Paper, no. 13683, National Bureau for Economic Research, Cambridge, MA.

Bhalotra, Sonia.2009. Fatal Fluctuations? Cyclicality in Infant Mortality in India, Journal of Development Economics (forthcoming)

Cameron, Lisa A. 2000. The Impact of the Indonesian Financial Crisis on Children: An Analysis Using the 100 Villages Data, Innocenti Working Paper, no. 81, Innocenti Research Center, United Nations Childrens´ Fund, Florence, Italy.

Case, Anne, Angela Fertig and Christina Paxson. 2005. The Lasting Impact of Childhood Health and Circumstance, Journal of Health Economics, 24(2): 365-389.

Conceição, Pedro and Namsuk Kim. 2009. The Asymmetric Impact of Growth Fluctuation on Human Development: Evidence from Correlates of Growth Deceleration and Accelerations, UNDP/ODS Working Paper, May, UNDP, New York.

Cutler, David et al. 2002. Financial Crisis, Health Outcomes and Ageing: Mexico in the 1980s and 1990s, Journal of Public Economics, 84(2): 279-303.

Dehejia, Rajeev and Adriana Lleras-Muney. 2004. Booms, Busts, and Babies´Health, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 119(3): 1091-1130.

Duryea, Suzanne, David Lam and Deborah Levison. 2007. Effects of Economic Shock on Children´s Employment and Schooling in Brazil, Journal of Development Economics, 84(1): 188-124.

Edwards, Ryan D. 2009. The Cost of Cyclical Mortality, The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, 9(1): article 7.

Fallon, Peter R. and Robert E. B. Lucas. 2002. The Impact of Financial Crises on Labor Markets, Household Incomes, and Poverty: A Review of Evidence, World Bank Research Observer, 17 (1): 21-4 5.

Ferreira, Francisco H. G. and Norbert Schady. 2008. Aggregate Economic Shocks, Child Schooling and Child Health, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, no. 4701, World Bank, Washington, D.C .

Frankenberg, Elizabeth, Duncan Thomas and Kathleen Beegle. 1999. The Real Costs of Indonesia´s Economic Crisis: Preliminary Findings from the Indonesia Family Life Surveys, RAND Labor and Population Program Working Paper Series, no. 99-04, RAND, Santa Monica, CA.

Funkhouser, Edward. 1999. Cyclical Economic Condictions and School Attendance in Costa Rica, Economics of Education Review, 18(12): 31-50.

Glewwe, Paul and Gillette Hall. 1994. Poverty, Inequality, and Living Standards during Unorthodox Adjustment: The Case of Peru, 1985-1990. Economic Development and Cultural Change, 42(4): 689-717.

Goldin, Claudia. 2001. The Human Capital Century and American Leadership: Virtues of the Past, Journal of Economic History, 61(2): 263-292.

Gubert, Flore and Anne.Sophie Robilliard. 2007. Risk and Schooling Decisions in Rural Madagascar: A Panel Data Analysis, Journal of African Economics, 17(2): 207-238.

Jeanneney, Sylviane Guillaumont and Kangni Kpodar. 2008. Financial Development and Poverty Reduction: Can There Be a Benefit Without a Cost? IMF Working Paper, no. 08/62, International Monetary Fund, Washington, D.C.

Lanjouw, Peter et al. 2001. Poverty, Education and Health in Indonesia: Who Benefits from Public Spending? World Bank Policy Research Working Paper Series, no. 2739, World Bank, Washington, D.C.

Levinsohn, James, Steven Berry and Jed Friedman. 1999. Impacts of the Indonesian Economis Crisis: Prices Changes and the Poor, NBER Working Paper, no. 7194, National Bureau for Economic Research, Cambridge, MA.

Lieberman, Samuel S., Melanie Juwono and Puti Marzoeki. 2001. Government Health Expenditures in Indonesia through December 2000: An Update, World Bank East Asia and the Pacific Region Watching Brief, no. 6.

Lustig, Nora, Omar Arias and Jamele Rogolini. 2002. Poverty Reduction and Economic Growth: A Two-Way Causality, Sustainable Development Department Technical Papers Series, no. POV-111, Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, D.C.

Lustig, Nora. 2000. Presidential Address: Crises and the poor: Sociallly Respossible Macroeconomics, Economía, 1(1): 1-30.

Lustig, Nora and Michael Walton. 1999. Crises and the Poor: A Template for Action. Note prepared for the Inter-American Development Bank Conference on Social Protection and Poverty, February.

Martín, Gary. 2000. Employment and Unemployment in Mexico in the 1990s, Monthly Labor Review, 123(11): 3-18.

Mckenzie, David J. 2003. How do Households Cope with Aggregate Shocks? Evidence from the Mexican Peso Crisis, World Development, 31(7): 1179-1199.

Men, Tamara et al. 2003. Russian Mortaly Trends for 1991-2001: Analysis by Cause and Region. British Medical Journal, 327(7421): 964

Mendoza, Ronald U. 2009. Aggregate Shocks, Poor Household and Children: Transmission Channels and Policy Responses, draft working paper prepared for UNICEF. Conferences, East Asia and The Pacific Islands, 6-7 January, Singapore.

Mesle, France. 2002. Mortality in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union: Lon Term Trends and Recent Upturns, paper presented at IUSSP/MPIDR Workshop, 19-21 June, Rostock, Germany.

Parrado, Emilio A. and René M. Zenteno. 2001, Economic Restructuring. Financial Crisis, and Women´s Work in Mexico, Social Problems, 48(4): 456-477.

Paxson, Christina and Norbert Schady. 2005. Child Health and Economic Crisis in Peru, World Bank Economic Review, 19(2): 203-223.

Pritchett, Lant and Lawrence H. Summers. 1996. Wealthier is Healthier, Journal of Human Resources, 31(4): 841-868.

Revallion, Martin. 2008. Bailing Out the World´s Poorest. Policy Research Working Paper, no. 4763, World Bank, Washington, D.C.

Rukumnuaykit, Pungpond. 2003. Crises and Chile Health Outcomes: The Impacts of Economic and Drought/Smoke Crises on Infant Mortality in Indonesia, Michigan State University, unpublished.

Ruhm, Christopher. 2007. A Healtly Economy Can Break Your Heart, Demography, 44(4): 829-848.

Ruhm, Christopher. 2005. Commentary: Mortality Increases During Economic Upturns, International Journal of Epidemiology, 36(6): 1206-1211.

Ruhm, Christopher. 2003. Good Times Make You Sick, Journal of Health Economics, 22(3): 637-658.

Ruhm, Christopher. 2000. Recessions Good for Your Health?, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115(2): 617-650.

Saavedra, Jaime, 1998. ¿Crisis real o de expectativas? El empleo en el Perú antes y después de las reformas estructurales, GRADE documentos de grado, no. 25, Grupo de análisis para el Desarrollo, Lima.

Sachs, Jeffrey D. 1996. The Transition at Mid Decade, American Economic Review, 86(2): 128-133.

Schultz, T. Paul. 1997. Demand for Children in Low Income Countries. In Mark Richard Rosenzweig and Oded Stark (eds.) Handbook of Population and Family Economics, North Holland, Amsterdam.

Simms, C. and M. Rowson. 2003. Reassessment of health effects of the Indonesian economis ciris: donors versus the data, Lancet, 361: 1382-1385.

Skoufias, Emmanuel. 2003. Economic Crises and Natural Disasters: Coping Strategies and Policy Implications, World Development, 31(7): 1087-1102.

Skoufias, Emmanuel and Asep Suryahadi. 2000. Changes in Household Welfare, Poverty and Inequality During the Crisis, Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, 36(2): 97-114.

Thomas, Duncan, Kathleen Beegle and Elizabeth Frankenberg. 2004. Education in a Crisis, Journal of Development Economics, 74(1): 53-85.

Thomas, Duncan, Kathleen Beegle and Elizabeth Frankenberg. 2003. Labor Market Transitions of Men and Women During an Economic Crisis: Evidencie from Indonesian, in Brigida García, Richard Anker and Antonella Pinnelli (eds.) Women in the Labour Market in Changing Economies: Demographic Issues, Oxford University Press, New York.

Walberg, Peder et al. 1998. Economic Change, Crime, and Mortality Crisis in Russia: Regional Analysis, British Medical Journal, 317: 312-218.

Van de Berg, Gerard J., Maarten Lindeboom, and France Portrait. 2006. Economic Condictions Early in Life and Individual Mortality, American Economic Review, 96(1): 290-302.

World Bank. 2009. The Global Financial Crisis: Assessing Vulnerability for Women and Children, Washington, D.C.

World Bank. 2008a. Global Financial Crisis: Responding Today, Securing Tomorrow, background paper prepared for G-20, summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy, 15 November, Washington, D.C.

World Bank. 2008b. World Development Indicators, Washington, D.C.

World Bank. 2001. World Development Reports, Washington, D.C.

How to Cite
ConceiçãoP., KimN., & ZhangY. (2010). Overview: Economic crises and human development. Estudios Económicos, 25(1), 37-62. https://doi.org/10.24201/ee.v25i1.118
  • Abstract viewed - 389 times
  • PDF downloaded: 184 times