IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

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


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


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

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Halkos, George, 1993. "Economic incentives for optimal sulphur abatement in Europe," MPRA Paper 33705, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Ger Klaassen & David Pearce, 1995. "Introduction," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 5(2), pages 85-93, March.
    3. Michael Grossman, 1972. "The Demand for Health: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gros72-1, January.
    4. Tietenberg, T H, 1990. "Economic Instruments for Environmental Regulation," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(1), pages 17-33, Spring.
    5. Halkos, George E., 1993. "Sulphur abatement policy: Implications of cost differentials," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(10), pages 1035-1043, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    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. Clark, Andrew E., 2009. "Work, Jobs And Well-Being Across the Millennium," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) 0901, CEPREMAP.
    3. 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).
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Phiri, Andrew & Mukuka, Doreen, 2017. "Does unemployment aggravate suicide rates in South Africa? Some empirical evidence," MPRA Paper 80749, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. repec:spr:soinre:v:133:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1384-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. 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.
    12. 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.
    13. 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.
    14. 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.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:34:y:1992:i:11:p:1191-1201. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.