NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Most workers look forward to getting paid, but one new study shows that payday may be the riskiest time of the month.
The likelihood of dying may increase by double digits in the week after you get paid, as consumers take on more risks with money in their pocket, according to a study by William Evans, an economist at the University of Notre Dame. Evans picked four different population pools whose pay dates were publicly known and paired this with national mortality data to determine if there was any change in mortality rates in the time immediately after payday.
The groups he studied included senior citizens who received Social Security payments, Alaskan families who earn dividends from state oil revenues, members of the military who receive regular paychecks and households that benefited from the Bush tax cuts in 2001.
While the results varied slightly from group to group, Evans found an across-the-board correlation between pay periods and an uptick in fatalities. The mortality rate for military personnel increased by upwards of 10% in the week after they received a paycheck. Senior citizens, on the other hand, were 2.5% more likely to pass away during the week after receiving their Social Security checks.
The reason for this, according to Evans, is simply that individuals are more likely to be active and take on everyday risks when they are flush with money.
“Naturally, you are going to shop more and drive more and do day-to-day things after you get paid, but if you drive more, you also have a greater risk of getting into an accident,” Evans told MainStreet. “It’s the inherent risk of life.”
Not every group takes on the same kind of risks, however, which goes some way toward explaining the difference in mortality rates among the four demographics after payday. Those in the military were found to be more likely to die from substance abuse, hinting that they were more likely to go out and party after getting paid, whereas the elderly were more likely to die from heart attacks, perhaps just from the stress of errands and other everyday activities.
Of all the causes of death in the days after receiving a paycheck, the three most common for all groups were substance abuse, external causes (i.e., car accidents and falls) and heart attacks, in that order.
Though the findings may seem ominous at first blush, Evans argues that consumers shouldn’t begin to dread payday.
“The [mortality] effect is noticeable, but you have a lot of control over this risk,” he said. “As long as you are not going to drive drunk or get hammered at a bar, your risk isn’t going to be that great.”
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