Be Warned: Payday May Be Hazardous to Your Health

It's Friday, so watch out. People are more likely to die on payday or shortly after than at other times. We just want you to be safe.

So much of social science research is about finding data to back up what we already pretty much know through common sense. This study from Notre Dame however, uncovers some counter-intuitive findings.

People are more likely to die on or shortly after the day they’re paid, ...Traffic fatalities, heart attacks and increased substance abuse are among the most common causes of the short-term—but significant—increase in mortality following payday.


The study is by no means comprehensive, and looked only at people who were being paid by the government, like military personnel and social security recipients.

Notre Dame researcher William Evans attributed the deadly danger of a paycheck to spending sprees. "There is increased economic activity after payday,” he says. “Some of the activity, like driving and trips to bars, will naturally increase risk. Many types of activities are also known to trigger heart attacks.”

What surprised us was how broad-based the phenomenon was ... We found increased mortality after payday for the young and old, low and higher income groups, for married and single individuals. The increase in short-run mortality also occurs for a large number of causes of death.The effect was particularly pronounced for car accidents, heart attacks and especially substance abuse.


The study was published in the Journal of Public Economics.


Image (cc) by Flickr user ctudball.