Female Suicide and Labor Markets: A Disaggregated Panel Analysis of the Link between Labor Market Conditions and Female Suicides in the United States (1979- 2004)


PhD Candidate, Department of Economics, American University


Suicide is a well-known public health problem in the United States. Macroeconomic conditions, among many other factors, because of their impacts on psychological well-being of individuals, are thought to be linked to suicide attempts. However, previous research on the relationship between suicide rates and macroeconomic conditions, especially that of labor market conditions, has resulted into ambiguous and often contradictory results. This paper attempts to provide a detailed disaggregated econometric analysis on the link between labor market conditions and female suicide rates in the United States. Using a state-level panel data of 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia between 1979 and 2004, this paper finds that labor market deteriorations (i.e. higher rates of unemployment, larger deviations of unemployment rate from its trend, and greater volatilities in the overall rate of unemployment), are correlated with only the suicide rates of the prime working-age women (i.e. 35-64 years old). Moreover, the results provide some evidence that female suicide rates in the United States are also positively correlated with higher female labor force participation rates.