, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 97–108 | Cite as

Socioeconomic ramifications of changing cohort size: an analysis of U.S. postwar suicide rates by age and sex

  • Dennis A. Ahlburg
  • Morton Owen Schapiro


This paper presents a relative cohort size model of suicide. The model states that as relative cohort size (the ratio of younger to older workers) rises, income and income aspirations diverge for the young. One possible extreme reaction to this disequilibrium is suicide. The model explains the variation in age- and sex-specific suicide rates for the United States over the period 1948 to 1976. It identifies the direct effect of changes in cohort size on suicide rates as well as the indirect effect operating through other demographic variables. The model predicts the suicide rates for males above 45 years of age to rise and those for all other groups to decline. For most groups this is a reversal of recent movements in their suicide rates.


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dennis A. Ahlburg
    • 1
  • Morton Owen Schapiro
    • 2
  1. 1.Industrial Relations CenterUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolis
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsWilliams CollegeWilliamstown

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