It is a vivid illustration of our 24/7-work culture that most Americans do not use all of their allotted vacation days. This is especially sad considering the large number of Americans who are not eligible for paid time-off; the US is one of a few countries that lacks a federal law requiring vacation time. Even those employees who do take time off from work are still largely tethered to the office.
Numerous studies have found that time away from the office and more frequent vacations lead to greater productivity, improved job performance, and lower levels of stress. Time off from work gives us an opportunity to rest and recharge, which in turn makes us more creative and resourceful once we’re back on the job. Most of us already know this from personal experience but now there’s data to back it up (paywall).
As the debate about health care costs swirls, I’ve published an article that challenges the common view that higher healthcare spending is not correlated with better health outcomes. To the contrary, I found that tourists who become ill and receive emergency care at “high-spending” hospitals have significantly lower mortality rates compared to tourists who end up in “lower-spending” hospitals.
Because hospitals in general tend to spend more on sicker patients, I knew how difficult it is to estimate returns to healthcare spending. My goal was to compare apples to apples. It’s not possible to conduct a randomized experiment where some patients go to a high-spending hospital system and others are sent to a low-spending one. Since most people don’t choose their vacation destinations based on the budgets of local hospitals, tourists come close to mimicking this type of random assignment: some are exposed to high-spending hospital systems while others are exposed to low-spending ones.