The Body Economic

RSA Event


RSA House, London

  • Economics and Finance
  • Communities

Political economist David Stuckler presents new data that shows that austerity is seriously bad for health. Can communities and governments respond more effectively to the challenges of debt and market turmoil, and protect the health of our body economic?


The global financial crisis has had a profound impact upon the wealth of nations. But until now we have had little sense of how it affects our physical and mental health.

In a ground-breaking new study, based on a decade of research, political economist David Stuckler and physician Sanjay Basu demonstrate the human cost of austerity – backed by hard data from the Great Depression of the 1930s, to post-communist Russia and the current recessions in the UK, Europe and the US.

Austerity, they argue, is seriously bad for our health. The harms they report include HIV and malaria outbreaks, shortages of essential medicines, lost healthcare access, and an avoidable epidemic of alcohol abuse, depression and suicide.

However, Stuckler and Basu also argue that during the worst economic disasters, negative public health effects do not need to be inevitable. They reveal how it is entirely possible to prevent financial crises from becoming epidemics - but only if communities and their governments respond effectively to the challenges of debt and market turmoil, and properly take into account the serious health consequences of economic choices.

Speaker: David Stuckler, university lecturer in Sociology at Cambridge University and author of The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills (Allen Lane, 2013)

Chair: Dr David McCoy, senior clinical lecturer at the Centre for Primary Care and Public Health at Queen Mary University, London and head of Public Health Intelligence for Inner North West London.

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