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The impact of economic crisis on mental well-being and happiness

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Simon Richard White.

Imagine if it would be possible to study the effects of economic crisis with experimental methods placing a whole nation on an island where their mental well-being and happiness would be monitored before, during and after the exposure of a major economic downfall. This sounds like an impossible, at least unethical task to complete. However, this is the situation with the experimental island: Iceland. In 2007, a year prior to the collapse of the whole banking system in Iceland, the Public Health Institute of Iceland (PHI) did send out a comprehensive questionnaire on health and well-being to a random sample of 10.000 Icelanders with a 60% response rate followed up in 2009. This information gives a good baseline for the situation a year before the economic downfall and a year after. To monitor the well-being of the population even further, the PHI sent another questionnaire to four smaller samples of 1200 Icelanders just weeks after the collapse in the end of October 2008, followed up in January and June 2009 and then again in December 2009. Here, the objective is to explore how the fall of the banking system in Iceland has affected the mental well-being and happiness in Iceland by comparing measures made in 2007, 2008 and 2009. The focus will be on changes in emotions like anger, sorrow, anxiety and depression. Changes in optimism regarding the future, usefulness, stress, task solving, clear thinking, closeness to others, decision making and happiness before and after the economic downfall will also be explored.

This talk is part of the Bradford Hill seminars at the Cambridge Institute of Public Health series.

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