The European Journal of Health Economics

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 83–96 | Cite as

Crisis, suicide and labour productivity losses in Spain

  • Berta RiveraEmail author
  • Bruno Casal
  • Luis Currais
Original Paper



Suicide became the first cause of death between the ages of 15 and 44 in Spain in the year 2013. Moreover, the suicide rate in Spain went up by more than 9 % with respect to the previous year. This increase could be related to the serious economic recession that Spain has been experiencing in recent years. In this sense, there is a lack of evidence to help assess to what extent these suicides have a social cost in terms of losses in human capital. Firstly, this article examines the relationship between the variables related to the economic cycle and the suicide rates in the 17 Spanish regions. Secondly, an estimate is made of the losses in labour productivity owing to these suicides.


In this article, panel data models are used to consider different variables related to the economic cycle. Demographic variables and the suicide rates for regions across Spain from 2002 to 2013 also come into play. The present and future production costs owing to premature death from suicide are calculated using a human capital model. These costs are valued from the gross salary that an individual no longer receives in the future at the very moment he or she leaves the labour market.


The results provide a strong indication that a decrease in economic growth and an increase in unemployment negatively affect suicide rates. Due to suicide, 38,038 potential years of working life were lost in 2013. This has an estimated cost of over 565 million euros.


The economic crisis endured by Spain in recent years has played a role in the higher suicide rates one can observe from the data in official statistics. From a social perspective, suicide is a public health problem with far-reaching consequences.


Suicide rates Economic crisis Unemployment Lost labour productivity, Spain 

JEL Classification

C23 I10 I15 



The authors would like to acknowledge the support received from the research project ECON2013-48217-C2-2R “Impacto económico, sanitario y social de las enfermedades y los problemas de salud: información y herramientas para la evaluación de políticas públicas”.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Applied Economics, Faculty of Economics and BusinessUniversity of A CoruñaA CoruñaSpain
  2. 2.University College of Labour RelationsUniversity of A CoruñaA CoruñaSpain
  3. 3.Department of Economic Analysis and Business Administration, Faculty of Economics and BusinessUniversity of A CoruñaA CoruñaSpain

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