After several years of a booming economy in Iceland, the economic bubble burst in 2008 and affected most Icelanders in one way or another. We explore whether the economic collapse in 2008 and subsequent economic crisis affected the probability of ischemic heart disease (IHD) events, independent of regular cyclical effects that can be attributed to typical economic conditions. Moreover, we conduct a mediation analysis to study the potential mechanisms through which the relationship between the economic collapse and cardiovascular health travels. We estimate linear probability models using administrative data on IHD events, earnings and balance-sheet status, as well as unemployment for all Icelanders aged 16 and older in 2000-2014. We find that the sharp change in economic conditions in 2008 increased the probability of cardiovascular events in both males and females in the long term. In absolute terms, these effects were small in magnitude but often statistically significant, amounting to approximately 13-16 extra cases of IHD events in each of the two years following the collapse for males and 3-5 addition cases for females. Moreover, they contrast with the finding that general business-cycle fluctuations operated in the opposite direction. Several potential mediators were correlated with the probability of IHD events, but their inclusion had little impact on the estimated effects of the economic crisis. A statistically significant business-cycle effect is found for both genders indicating that in general, harder economic times are beneficial for heart health. Thus, the general business cycle and the economic collapse in 2008 and subsequent crisis can be thought of as separate phenomena with differing effects on IHD.
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