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Keywords:Suicide 

Working Paper
Relative status and well-being: evidence from U.S. suicide deaths
We assess the importance of interpersonal income comparisons using data on suicide deaths. We examine whether suicide risk is related to others? income, holding own income and other individual and environmental factors fixed. We estimate models of the suicide hazard using two independent data sets: (1) the National Longitudinal Mortality Study and (2) the National Center for Health Statistics? Multiple Cause of Death 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 others? income.
AUTHORS: Wilson, Daniel J.; Johnson, Norman J.; Daly, Mary C.
DATE: 2012

Working Paper
Happiness, unhappiness, and suicide: an empirical assessment
The use of subjective well-being (SWB) data for investigating the nature of individual preferences has increased tremendously in recent years. There has been much debate about the cross-sectional and time series patterns found in these data, particularly with respect to the relationship between SWB and relative status. Part of this debate concerns how well SWB data measures true utility or preferences. In a recent paper, Daly, Wilson, and Johnson (2007) propose using data on suicide as a revealed preference (outcome-based) measure of well-being and find strong evidence that reference-group income negatively affects suicide risk. In this paper, we compare and contrast the empirical patterns of SWB and suicide data. We find that the two have very little in common in aggregate data (time series and cross-sectional), but have a strikingly strong relationship in terms of their determinants in individual-level, multivariate regressions. ; This latter result cross-validates suicide and SWB micro data as useful and complementary indicators of latent utility.
AUTHORS: Wilson, Daniel J.; Daly, Mary C.
DATE: 2008

Working Paper
Relative status and well-being: evidence from U.S. suicide deaths
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.
AUTHORS: Wilson, Daniel J.; Johnson, Norman J.; Daly, Mary C.
DATE: 2007

Working Paper
The happiness - suicide paradox
Suicide is an important scientific phenomenon. Yet its causes remain poorly understood. This study documents a paradox: the happiest places have the highest suicide rates. The study combines findings from two large and rich individual-level data sets?one on life satisfaction and another on suicide deaths?to establish the paradox in a consistent way across U.S. states. It replicates the finding in data on Western industrialized nations and checks that the paradox is not an artifact of population composition or confounding factors. The study concludes with the conjecture that people may find it particularly painful to be unhappy in a happy place, so that the decision to commit suicide is influenced by relative comparisons.
AUTHORS: Oswald, Andrew J.; Wilson, Daniel J.; Daly, Mary C.; Wu, Stephen
DATE: 2010

Working Paper
An economic interpretation of suicide cycles in Japan
Suicide rates in Japan have increased dramatically in recent years, making. Japan?s male rate the highest among developed economies. This study revises the standard economic model of suicide to accommodate Japan?s experience, focusing on the change in human capital for the unemployed. We then use the new model and de-trended data to empirically investigate the relationship between the suicide cycle and the unemployment cycle. Unlike previous aggregate time series studies, we find that the relationship between the suicide rate and the unemployment rate is significantly and robustly positive for both males and females even after controlling for several social variables.
AUTHORS: Koo, Jahyeong; Cox, W. Michael
DATE: 2006

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Daly, Mary C. 4 items

Wilson, Daniel J. 4 items

Johnson, Norman J. 2 items

Cox, W. Michael 1 items

Koo, Jahyeong 1 items

Oswald, Andrew J. 1 items

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