Wednesday, July 22, 2015

#Greece to pay any price, bear any burden?

According to an article in the Pacific Standard, a couple of studies have found a crisis-related uptick in suicides in Greece. The authors of one even allege that at least 10,000 additional economic suicides between 2008 and 2010” can be attributed to the country’s economic slump. The title of the PS article is meant to be a bit disturbing (“When Economic Instability Turns Deadly”), so it got me thinking. Has anyone tried to assess the human cost of economic transitions – for example, with the methodology used to calculate war casualties? And not just in a country like Greece where the economy has contracted so much. How about, say, Bulgaria – which Bulgarian political commentator and social entrepreneur Ivan Krastev recently included among the East European countries that had possessed the social preconditions for successful reforms (“A Greek Farce, Then Gloom,” NYT, 16 July 2015)? Or Ghana, which (with the help of a major debt write-off) has enjoyed a prolonged period of political stability and entered the club of middle-income countries – to recently face new financial and social woes? This, by the way, would be a fun topic for a quantitative Ph.D. dissertation.