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Investigating the Persistence of Suicide in the United States: Evidence from the Quantile Unit Root Test


While the subsequent persistence of suicide after an economic shock has received much attention among economists, no study has investigated the persistence of suicide through the concept of persistence in macroeconomic theory. This study employed the quantile structural breaks tests to identify possible structural changes in various suicide rates under the framework of the repeat cross-sectional quantile regression model in the US over the period from January 1999 to December 2013 for the first time. Together with the QAR-based unit root test, we found that positive shocks have significant impacts on various suicide rates, and the persistence of suicide was confirmed for all suicide rates in some pre-specified quantiles except for the suicide rate of the middle age (aged 35–54) group. Specifically, the persistence of suicide was identified in the lower quantiles for the overall suicide rate and the suicide rate of the middle-old age (aged 55–64) group. There exists persistence of suicide in the two tails of quantiles for the suicide rates of the young (aged 15–34) and the elderly (aged 65 and older) groups. The surveillance system established for suicide prevention should target the middle-old age (aged 55–64) group during economic downturn periods and target the young (aged 15–34) and the elderly (aged 65 or older) groups during periods from economic downturns to recessions.

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The authors would like to thank Professor Filomena Maggino, the editor of the Social Indicators Research and three anonymous referees for their insightful comments and suggestions in the early version of this study. The final proof-reading of the study by Lisa Brutcher (at Washington State University, USA) is deeply acknowledged. All errors are ours.

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Correspondence to Yu-Hui Lin.

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We have no relevant affiliations or financial involvement with any organization or entity with a financial interest or financial conflict with the subject matter or materials discussed in the manuscript. This includes employment, consultancies, honoraria, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, grants or patents received or pending, or royalties.

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Chen, W., Chang, T. & Lin, Y. Investigating the Persistence of Suicide in the United States: Evidence from the Quantile Unit Root Test. Soc Indic Res 135, 813–833 (2018).

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  • Persistence
  • Suicide
  • Quantile unit root
  • Quantile structural change

JEL Classification

  • C21
  • C22
  • I15