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Asian economic crises and health: population health impacts and policy responses
  1. Young-Ho Khang1,
  2. John Lynch2,3
  1. 1Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  2. 2School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia
  3. 3Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Young-Ho Khang, Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, 388-1 Pungnap-dong Songpa-gu, Seoul 138-736, Korea; youngk{at}amc.seoul.kr

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The current global economic crisis is affecting many Asian countries. In fact, the expanded activity especially in financial sectors following the previous economic crisis in the late 1990s may have even increased some countries' vulnerability to the current economic instability. Although the current crisis in Asia is different from the previous one in terms of its causes and patterns,1 they share similarities in their potential consequences, such as increases in unemployment and decreases in household income and spending. Examining the population health impacts of and associated policy responses to the economic crisis in the late 1990s, thus, may provide some important insights for Asian or other countries in the development of policies to deal with the consequences of the current economic crisis.

Starting with the depreciation of the Thai baht in July 1997, the Asian economic crisis struck many Far East and Southeast Asian countries. Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea and Thailand were most affected.1 2 In Indonesia and Thailand, it took many years for the per capita gross domestic product to regain its precrisis level.2 The population health impacts of this economic crisis differed among countries and across different health outcomes. Increases in suicide deaths were detected in many Asian countries.2–4 However, increases …

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