IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Relative status and well-being: evidence from U.S. suicide deaths

  • Mary C. Daly
  • Daniel J. Wilson
  • Norman J. Johnson

This paper empirically assesses the theory of interpersonal income comparison using individual level data on suicide deaths in the United States. We model suicide as a choice variable, conditional on exogenous risk factors, reflecting an individual's assessment of current and expected future utility. Our empirical analysis considers whether suicide risk is systematically related to the income of others, holding own income and other individual factors fixed. We estimate proportional hazards and probit models of the suicide hazard using two separate and independent data sets: (1) the National Longitudinal Mortality Study and (2) the Detailed Mortality Files combined with the 5 percent Public Use Micro Sample of the 1990 decennial census. Results from both data sources show that, controlling for own income and individual characteristics, individual suicide risk rises with reference group income. This result holds for reference groups defined broadly, such as by county, and more narrowly by county and one demographic marker (e.g., age, sex, race). These findings are robust to alternative specifications and cannot be explained by geographic variation in cost of living, access to emergency medical care, mismeasurement of deaths by suicide, or by bias due to endogeneity of own income. Our results confirm findings using self-reported happiness data and are consistent with models of utility featuring "external habit" or "Keeping Up with the Joneses" preferences.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.frbsf.org/publications/economics/papers/2007/wp07-12bk.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in its series Working Paper Series with number 2007-12.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfwp:2007-12
Contact details of provider: Postal: P.O. Box 7702, San Francisco, CA 94120-7702
Phone: (415) 974-2000
Fax: (415) 974-3333
Web page: http://www.frbsf.org/
Email:


More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Email:


References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Oswald, Andrew J, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1815-31, November.
  2. Abel, Andrew B, 1990. "Asset Prices under Habit Formation and Catching Up with the Joneses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 38-42, May.
  3. Dave E. Marcotte, 2003. "The Economics of Suicide, Revisited," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 69(3), pages 628-643, January.
  4. Alesina, Alberto & Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2004. "Inequality and happiness: are Europeans and Americans different?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 2009-2042, August.
  5. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2001. "How Much Do We Care About Absolute Versus Relative Income and Consumption?," Working Papers in Economics 63, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  6. Sendhil Mullainathan & Marianne Bertrand, 2001. "Do People Mean What They Say? Implications for Subjective Survey Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 67-72, May.
  7. Murphy, Kevin M & Topel, Robert H, 2002. "Estimation and Inference in Two-Step Econometric Models," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(1), pages 88-97, January.
  8. Gali, J., 1992. "Keeping Up with the Joneses: Consumption Externalities, Portfolio Choice and Asset Prices," Papers 92-22, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
  9. Christopher Peterson & Nansook Park & Martin Seligman, 2005. "Orientations to happiness and life satisfaction: the full life versus the empty life," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 25-41, 03.
  10. Robert J. MacCulloch & Rafael Di Tella & Andrew J. Oswald, 2001. "Preferences over Inflation and Unemployment: Evidence from Surveys of Happiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 335-341, March.
  11. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2005. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 963-1002, August.
  12. Erdal Tekin & Sara Markowitz, 2005. "Suicidal Behavior and the Labor Market Productivity of Young Adults," Working Papers Rutgers University, Newark 2005-003, Department of Economics, Rutgers University, Newark.
  13. Brown, Gordon D. A. & Gardner, Jonathan & Oswald, Andrew J. & Qian, Jing, 2005. "Does Wage Rank Affect Employees' Wellbeing?," IZA Discussion Papers 1505, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Dirk Engelmann & Martin Strobel, 2004. "Inequality Aversion, Efficiency, and Maximin Preferences in Simple Distribution Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 857-869, September.
  15. Mary C. Daly & Daniel J. Wilson, 2006. "Keeping up with the Joneses and staying ahead of the Smiths: evidence from suicide data," Working Paper Series 2006-12, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  16. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Karen E. Norberg, 2001. "Explaining the Rise in Youth Suicide," NBER Chapters, in: Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis, pages 219-270 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1994. "Satisfaction and comparison income," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9408, CEPREMAP.
  18. Douglas Miller & Christina Paxson, 2001. "Relative Income, Race, and Mortality," Working Papers 269, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  19. Tomes, Nigel, 1986. "Income distribution, happiness and satisfaction: A direct test of the interdependent preferences model," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 425-446, December.
  20. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada, 2005. "Income and well-being: an empirical analysis of the comparison income effect," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 997-1019, June.
  21. John F. Helliwell, 2004. "Well-Being and Social Capital: Does Suicide Pose a Puzzle?," NBER Working Papers 10896, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Ulf-G. Gerdtham & Magnus Johannesson, 2004. "Absolute Income, Relative Income, Income Inequality, and Mortality," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
  23. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2000. "Are Recessions Good For Your Health?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(2), pages 617-650, May.
  24. Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedfwp:2007-12. 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: (Diane Rosenberger)

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.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.