We suggest that the workload is higher during economic booms and thus employees have to go to work despite being sick. In a theoretical model focusing on infectious diseases, we show that this will provoke infections of coworkers leading to overall higher sickness absence during economic upturns. Using state-level aggregated data from 112 German public health insurance funds (out of 145 in total), we find that sickness absence due to infectious diseases shows the largest procyclical pattern, as predicted by our theoretical model.
That’s from the abstract of a new paper by Stefan Pichler, which I have not read in full. The findings point to another reason (among many others) why working-age individuals might see health improvements during recessions, and why health spending might be lower during them.