2020 PSA! Yes, Politics Can Make You Crazy (Literally)
New study finds MORE evidence that politics may negatively impact voters' health, especially during election periods
February 3, 2020
Outlier Features launched last month with a simple question: Is political engagement making us ill? Now, another study suggests the answer may be yes.
A pair of researchers looked at health care claims from 900 people in Taiwan during election seasons, and found elections increased health care use and expense only during legally specified campaign periods by as much 19 percent.
Co-authors Hung-Hao Chang and Chad Meyerhoefer, of National Taiwan University and Lehigh University, respectively, found health care use and expenditure for young adults increased 17 to 19 percent for presidential elections, and rose 7 to 8 percent for local mayoral elections.
“Elevated health care use occurred only during the campaign period and did not persist after the election,” the researchers wrote in their National Bureau of Economic Research paper.
Overall, the treatment cost of illness caused by elections exceeded publicly reported levels of campaign expenditure, and accounted for 2 percent of total national health care costs during the campaign period.
The study found the types of healthcare problems were “consistent with the negative effects of participating in rallies and other organized campaign events,” observing the most common conditions to be acute respiratory infections, gastrointestinal conditions, and physical injuries.
This particular study was focusing only on physical health affects of elections, however, authors did note they found evidence suggesting an impact on mental health, too. The last Outlier Features article exploring this subject cited a study released last September, concluding a significant percentage of Americans — particularly those identified as liberals — report negative physical and emotional health outcomes from paying attention to politics.
Nearly 30 percent of respondents said they’d lost their temper over politics, and 20.3 percent said differences in political views damaged a friendship. 26 percent said that politics has led them to hate some people, and 23 percent were so bothered, they gave serious thought to moving out of their current community.
The authors of the most recent study, however, emphasize that while elections may have unintended consequences on the voting population, elections are preventing public health risks that would be present without democracy.
“Although elections heighten dominant opposing views among segments of the electorate, the transfer of political power through elections typically reduces conflict and violence relative to authoritarian societies,” Chang and Meyerhoefer wrote.
This site is for educational purposes and not a substitute for professional medical care by a doctor or otherwise qualified medical professional. The information provided by Outlier Magazine is on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services.