Socio-economic determinants of suicide: an ecological analysis of 35 countries
A long tradition of research has shown a relationship between suicide rates and socio-economic factors. However, most investigations have neglected to account for country-specific influences. The purpose of this study was to clarify the association between socio-economic variables and gender-specific suicide rates in 35 countries, using analytic techniques able to control for effects embedded within different country contexts.
Data relating to male and female age-standardised suicide rates (obtained from the WHO Statistical Information System) were analysed using fixed-effect regression. The possible associations between suicide rates and social variables were tested using data for 35 countries over the period 1980–2006.
Findings indicated that higher male and female suicide rates were associated with increased female labour force participation, unemployment, and the proportion of persons over 65 years. Reductions in male and female suicide rates were associated with increased health spending per capita. The study also revealed that higher fertility was associated with a reduction in male suicide. Female labour force participation had a stronger effect on male suicide rates.
The results of this study suggest that variables related to the labour market and the economy were better explanatory factors of suicide rates than population-level indicators of interpersonal relationships. Although results were generally similar for males and females, males appeared to be more sensitive to changes in the social environment than women.
KeywordsSocial variables Economic variables Suicide Ecological observations Fixed-effect regression
- 3.Durkheim E (1897) Suicide: a study in sociology (trans: JA Spaulding, G Simpson, 1951 ed.). The Free Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- 5.Morrison KL (2006) Marx, Durkheim, Weber: formations of modern social thought. Sage publications, LondonGoogle Scholar
- 7.Gibbs JP, Martin WT (1964) Status integration and suicide: a sociological study. University of Oregan Books, OregonGoogle Scholar
- 26.Ceccherini-Nelli A, Priebe S Economic factors and suicide rates: Associations over time in four countries. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 1–8 (in press)Google Scholar
- 33.Taylor S (1988) The sociology of suicide. Longman, LondonGoogle Scholar
- 39.Bertolote J, Fleischmann A (2002) A global perspective in the epidemiology of suicide. Suicidolgi 7:2Google Scholar
- 42.United Nations Statistics Division (2009) United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN). United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. http://unstats.un.org/unsd/geoinfo/ungegn.htm. Accessed March 20 2009
- 43.De Leo D, Evans R (2004) International suicide rates and prevention strategies. Hogrefe & Hubar Publishers, GottingenGoogle Scholar
- 50.Gutierrez R, Drukker DM (2007) Citing references for Stata’s cluster-correlated robust variance estimates. Stata Corp. http://www.stata.com/support/faqs/stat/robust_ref.html. Accessed 1 June 2009
- 51.Wooldridge JM (2006) Introductory econometrics: a modern approach. Thomson publishing, MasonGoogle Scholar
- 56.Douglas J (1967) The social meanings of suicide. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
- 58.Jougla E, Pequignot F, Chappert JL, Rossollin F, Le Toullec A, Pavillon G (2002) The quality of suicide mortality data. World Health Organization, BrisbaneGoogle Scholar