Few things feel better than stepping out with a fat paycheck in your pocket. But a new study in the Journal of Public Economics proves that it just might be anything but good. In fact, it can be downright deadly.
University of Notre Dame economist William Evans studied four major demographic groups—seniors on Social Security, military personnel, families receiving tax rebate checks and recipients of Alaska’s Permanent Fund dividends—and found that mortality rates significantly increased the week after checks showed up in their mailboxes. The three causes of death with the largest increases were substance abuse, external causes (all kinds of accidents) and heart attacks.
“After getting paid, people are just more active -- they go out to dinner, head to the store, drive more, go to bars, etc.,” said Evans. “Some of this behavior is inherently risky, like drinking too much or driving drunk. Some of the activity will naturally increase risk -- if you drive more, the risk of being in a car accident has increased.”
“Some of the links are not so obvious,” he continued. “For example, more activity may spur on a heart attack. And some of it is increased risk taking, as with substance abuse.”
So, do you need to be worried when payday rolls around? According to Evans, probably.
“What impressed us the most was the fact that the effect was so broad-based -- we found increases in mortality after payday for senior citizens, young people and tax payers,” he said. However, younger people, in particular, tend to have larger increases in payday mortality, as evidenced by the study’s results for the military group. You may not need to be worried, but you might want to be more careful.
Evans’ final suggestion for ensuring that payday doesn’t lead to mayday? “Stay off the roads."
Ever done something totally misguided on payday? Tell us about it.
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