Your Money or Your Life: The perils of having an income

A steady paycheck has a slightly unfortunate side-effect, two researchers intimate (intimidatingly): It just might kill you. People who have money are more likely to spend money, they say—and, while doing so, engage in activities that could convert them into mortality statistics.

photo of William Evans
William Evans

The Short-Term Mortality Consequences of Income Receipt,” William N. Evans (pictured), Timothy J. Moore, The National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper No. 15311, September 2009. The two economists, from the University of Notre Dame and the University of Maryland, write:

“Consumption can increase adverse health events, such as traffic accidents, heart attacks and strokes. In this paper, we examine the short-term mortality consequences of income receipt. We find that mortality increases following the arrival of monthly Social Security payments, regular wage payments for military personnel, the 2001 tax rebates, and Alaska Permanent Fund dividend payments. The increase in short-run mortality is large, potentially eliminating some of the protective benefits of additional income.”