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Suicidal Behavior and the Labor Market Productivity of Young Adults


  • Erdal Tekin


  • Sara Markowitz



This paper provides a comprehensive analysis of the link between suicidal behaviors and labor market productivity of young adults in the United States. Using data from the National Survey of Adolescent Health (Add Health), we estimate the effects of suicide thoughts and suicide attempts on the work and schooling activities of young adults as well as on their hourly wage rates. The richness of the data set allows us to implement several strategies to control for unobserved heterogeneity and the potential reverse causality. These include using a large set of control variables that are likely to be correlated with both the suicidal behavior and the outcome measures, an instrumental variables method, and a twin fixed effects analysis from the subsample of twin pairs contained in the data. The longitudinal nature of the data set also allows us to control for past suicide thoughts and attempts of the individuals from their high school years as well as the suicide behaviors of the members of their family. Results from the different identification strategies consistently indicate that both suicide thoughts and suicide attempts decrease the hourly wage rate and the probability that a young adult individual works and/or attends school. The results are found to be robust to various specification tests.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:run:wpaper:2005-003

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Angrist, Joshua D. & Krueger, Alan B., 1999. "Empirical strategies in labor economics," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 23, pages 1277-1366 Elsevier.
    2. Susan L. Ettner & Richard G. Frank & Ronald C. Kessler, 1997. "The Impact of Psychiatric Disorders on Labor Market Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 5989, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Bartel, Ann & Taubman, Paul, 1979. "Health and Labor Market Success: The Role of Various Diseases," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 61(1), pages 1-8, February.
    4. 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.
    5. Vivian H. Hamilton & Philip Merrigan & √Čric Dufresne, 1997. "Down and out: estimating the relationship between mental health and unemployment," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 6(4), pages 397-406.
    6. Dave E. Marcotte, 2003. "The Economics of Suicide, Revisited," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 69(3), pages 628-643, January.
    7. Chatterji, Pinka & Dave, Daval & Kaestner, Robert & Markowitz, Sara, 2004. "Alcohol abuse and suicide attempts among youth," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 159-180, June.
    8. Bartel, Ann & Taubman, Paul, 1986. "Some Economic and Demographic Consequences of Mental Illness," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(2), pages 243-256, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. D. Mark Anderson & Resul Cesur & Erdal Tekin, 2015. "Youth Depression And Future Criminal Behavior," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 53(1), pages 294-317, January.
    2. Mary C. Daly & Daniel J. Wilson & Norman J. Johnson, 2013. "Relative Status and Well-Being: Evidence from U.S. Suicide Deaths," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(5), pages 1480-1500, December.
    3. Janet Currie & Erdal Tekin, 2006. "Does Child Abuse Cause Crime?," NBER Working Papers 12171, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item


    suicidal behaviors; labor market choices; wages;

    JEL classification:

    • I0 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor

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