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How Is Suicide Different in Japan?

  • Joe Chen

    (Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo)

  • Yun Jeong Choi

    (Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo)

  • Yasuyuki Sawada

    (Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo)

In this study, we analyze suicide rates among OECD countries, with particular effort made to gain insight into how suicide in Japan is different from suicides in other OECD countries. Several findings emerged from fixed-effect panel regressions with country-specific time-trends. First, the impacts of socioeconomic variables vary across different gender-age groups. Second, in general, better economic conditions such as high levels of income and higher economic growth were found to reduce the suicide rate, while income inequality increases the suicide rate. Third, the suicide rate is more sensitive to economic factors captured by real GDP per capita, growth rate of real GDP per capita, and the Gini index than to social factors represented by divorce rate, birth rate, female labor participation rate, and alcohol consumption. Fourth, female and elderly suicides are more difficult to be accounted for. Finally, in accordance with general beliefs, Japan's suicide problem is very different from those of other OECD countries. The impact of the socioeconomic variables on suicide is greater in Japan than in other OECD countries; moreover, the empirical result of a significant Gini index in Japan is consistent with individuals' aversion to inequality and relative deprivation, as discussed in the recent literature.

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Paper provided by CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo in its series CIRJE F-Series with number CIRJE-F-557.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:tky:fseres:2008cf557
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