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Suicide, Age, and Well-Being: An Empirical Investigation

In: Insights in the Economics of Aging

Author

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  • Anne Case
  • Angus Deaton

Abstract

Suicide rates, life evaluation, and measures of affect are all plausible measures of the mental health and wellbeing of populations. Yet in the settings we examine, correlations between suicide and measured wellbeing are at best inconsistent. Differences in suicides between men and women, between Hispanics, blacks, and whites, between age groups for men, between countries or US states, between calendar years, and between days of the week, do not match differences in life evaluation. By contrast, reports of physical pain are strongly predictive of suicide in many contexts. The prevalence of pain is increasing among middle-aged Americans, and is accompanied by a substantial increase in suicides and deaths from drug and alcohol poisoning. Our measure of pain is now highest in middle age—when life evaluation and positive affect are at a minimum. In the absence of the pain epidemic, suicide and life evaluation are likely unrelated, leaving unresolved whether either one is a useful overall measure of population wellbeing.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Anne Case & Angus Deaton, 2015. "Suicide, Age, and Well-Being: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Chapters,in: Insights in the Economics of Aging, pages 307-334 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:13639
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:spr:soinre:v:132:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1340-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Borgschulte, Mark & Corredor-Waldron, Adriana & Marshall, Guillermo, 2018. "A Path Out: Prescription Drug Abuse, Treatment, and Suicide," IZA Discussion Papers 11391, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. ICHIMURA Hidehiko & Xiaoyan LEI & Chulhee LEE & Jinkook LEE & Albert PARK & SAWADA Yasuyuki, 2017. "Wellbeing of the Elderly in East Asia: China, Korea, and Japan," Discussion papers 17029, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty

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