Anti-Bullying Laws and Suicidal Behaviors among Teenagers
The CDC reports that the association between bullying and suicides among teenagers has generated “concern, even panic,” but polices aimed at combatting bullying have received little attention from researchers. Using a difference-in-differences estimation strategy, we find that state-level anti-bullying laws (ABLs) reduce bullying victimization, depression and suicidal ideation, with the largest estimated effects for female teenagers and teenagers who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning. In addition, ABLs are associated with a 13-16 percent reduction in the suicide rate of female 14- through 18-year-olds. Event-study analyses and falsification tests provide evidence that these estimates can be interpreted causally.
Sabia acknowledges funding support for this project from the Center for Health Economics & Policy Studies (CHEPS) at San Diego State University, including grant funding received from the Troesh Family Foundation and the Charles Koch Foundation. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.