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Suicide and unemployment in Italy: Description, analysis and interpretation of recent trends

Author

Listed:
  • Platt, Stephen
  • Micciolo, Rocco
  • Tansella, Michele

Abstract

This paper assesses the relationship between suicide and unemployment in Italy during the period 1977-1987, taking into account variations by gender and region. The first objective of the study is to provide descriptive longitudinal and cross-sectional aggregate-level analyses and also trends in individual-level and population risks for suicide in relation to unemployment. Our second objective is to use the Italian data to help discriminate between rival interpretations of the unemployment-suicide link, i.e. the operation of health selection or causal (susceptibility) mechanisms. Evidence for an association between suicide and unemployment among women was not convincing. The annual rate of female unemployment was negatively correlated with the female suicide rate and unrelated to the suicide rate among the unemployed, the relative risk or population attribute risk. Individual-level analyses for each year confirmed that unemployed women were more likely to commit suicide than their employed counterparts, although the overall relative risk was low (1.5) and conference intervals for six of the eleven annual risk ratios included unity (1). Among men, the unemployment rate was positively correlated over time with the suicide rate. However, change in the suicide rate across 18 geographic regions of Italy was unrelated to change in the unemployment rate, a finding which did not appear to be invalidated by a regression to the mean effect. Unemployment was also positively related to the suicide rate among the employed and population attribute risk, but unrelated to the rate among the unemployed or the relative risk. Comparison of suicide rates among the employed and unemployed revealed an excess of suicide among the latter in each year, with an overall relative risk of 3.4. On the basis of this contradictory and inconsistent evidence, we are cautious about offering definitive interpretations concerning the nature of the unemployment--suicide link among men. We conclude by suggesting the need for further individual-level studies using retrospective case-control methods.

Suggested Citation

  • Platt, Stephen & Micciolo, Rocco & Tansella, Michele, 1992. "Suicide and unemployment in Italy: Description, analysis and interpretation of recent trends," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 34(11), pages 1191-1201, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:34:y:1992:i:11:p:1191-1201
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Kong-Pin Chen & Shin-Hwan Chiang & Siu Fai Leung, 2003. "Migration, Family, and Risk Diversification," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 323-352, April.
    2. Phiri, Andrew & Mukuka, Doreen, 2017. "Does unemployment aggravate suicide rates in South Africa? Some empirical evidence," MPRA Paper 80749, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Clark, Andrew E., 2009. "Work, Jobs and Well-Being across the Millennium," IZA Discussion Papers 3940, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Rodriguez, Eunice, 1999. "Marginal employment and health in Germany and the United Kingdom: Does unstable employment predict health?," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Labor Market Policy and Employment FS I 99-203, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    5. Nattavudh Powdthavee, 2007. "Are there Geographical Variations in the Psychological Cost of Unemployment in South Africa?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 80(3), pages 629-652, February.
    6. Andrew E. Clark & Andreas Knabe & Steffen Rätzel, 2008. "Boon or Bane? Others' unemployment, well-being and job insecurity," Working Papers halshs-00586022, HAL.
    7. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2006. "Income and happiness: Evidence, explanations and economic implications," Working Papers halshs-00590436, HAL.
    8. Andrew E. Clark & Orsolya Lelkes, 2009. "Let us pray: religious interactions in life satisfaction," Working Papers halshs-00566120, HAL.
    9. Clark, Andrew & Knabe, Andreas & Rätzel, Steffen, 2010. "Boon or bane? Others' unemployment, well-being and job insecurity," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 52-61, January.
    10. Nattavudh Powdthavee, 2003. "Are there Regional Variations in the Psychological Cost of Unemployment in South Africa?," Labor and Demography 0310006, EconWPA, revised 28 Oct 2003.
    11. Korpi, Tomas, 1997. "Is utility related to employment status? Employment, unemployment, labor market policies and subjective well-being among Swedish youth," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 125-147, June.
    12. Daly, Mary C. & Oswald, Andrew J. & Wilson, Daniel & Wu, Stephen, 2011. "Dark contrasts: The paradox of high rates of suicide in happy places," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 435-442.
    13. Andrew E. Clark, 2008. "Happiness, habits and high rank: Comparisons in economic and social life," Working Papers halshs-00586049, HAL.
    14. repec:spr:soinre:v:133:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1384-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Andrew E. Clark, 2009. "Work, jobs and well-being across the Millennium," Working Papers halshs-00566139, HAL.
    16. Silva, Wesley Mendes da & Onusic, Luciana Massaro & Norvilitis, Jill M. & Moura, Gilnei L., 2013. "Ilusão de foco e satisfação com a vida entre universitários em São Paulo e Santa Maria," RAE - Revista de Administração de Empresas, FGV-EAESP Escola de Administração de Empresas de São Paulo (Brazil), vol. 53(5), September.
    17. Nikolaos Antonakakis & Rangan Gupta, 2017. "Is Economic Policy Uncertainty Related to Suicide Rates? Evidence from the United States," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 133(2), pages 543-560, September.
    18. Phillips, Julie A. & Nugent, Colleen N., 2014. "Suicide and the Great Recession of 2007–2009: The role of economic factors in the 50 U.S. states," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 22-31.
    19. Koursaros, Demetris, 2017. "Labor market dynamics when (un)employment is a social norm," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 96-116.

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