Suicide, Age, and Well-Being: An Empirical Investigation
Chapter in NBER book Insights in the Economics of Aging (2017), David A. Wise, editor (p. 307 - 334)
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 chapter is no longer available for free download, since the book has been published. To obtain a copy, you must buy the book.
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Suicide, Age, and Wellbeing: an Empirical Investigation, Anne Case, Angus Deaton
Commentary on this chapter: Comment, David M. Cutler
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