Suicidal Behavior and the Labor Market Productivity of Young Adults

Erdal Tekin, Sara Markowitz

NBER Working Paper No. 11238
Issued in April 2005, Revised in January 2007
NBER Program(s):The Program on Children, The Health Economics Program

This paper provides a comprehensive analysis of the link between suicidal behaviors and human capital formation of young adults in the United States. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we estimate the effects of suicide thoughts and attempts on the probability of engaging in work or school. 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 suicidal behavior and the outcome measures, an instrumental variables method, and a 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 suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts of the individuals from their high school years as well as the suicidal behavior of their family members. Results from the different identification strategies consistently indicate that both suicide thoughts and suicide attempts decrease the likelihood a young adult individual engages in work or schooling.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w11238

Published: Tekin, Erdal and Sara Markowitz. “The Effects of Suicidal Behavior on Productive Activities of Young Adults.” Southern Economic Journal 75,2 (October 2008): 300-331.

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