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Insights in the Economics of Aging$
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David A. Wise

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226426679

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226426709.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

Suicide, Age, and Well-Being

Suicide, Age, and Well-Being

An Empirical Investigation

Chapter:
(p.307) 10 Suicide, Age, and Well-Being
Source:
Insights in the Economics of Aging
Author(s):

Anne Case

Angus Deaton

David M. Cutler

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226426709.003.0011

Suicide rates, life evaluation, and measures of affect are all plausible measures of the mental health and wellbeing of populations. Yet in the settings we examine, correlations between suicide and measured wellbeing are at best inconsistent. Differences in suicides between men and women, between Hispanics, blacks, and whites, between age groups for men, between countries or US states, between calendar years, and between days of the week, do not match differences in life evaluation. By contrast, reports of physical pain are strongly predictive of suicide in many contexts. The prevalence of pain is increasing among middle-aged Americans, and is accompanied by a substantial increase in suicides and deaths from drug and alcohol poisoning. Our measure of pain is now highest in middle age—when life evaluation and positive affect are at a minimum. In the absence of the pain epidemic, suicide and life evaluation are likely unrelated, leaving unresolved whether either one is a useful overall measure of population wellbeing.

Keywords:   suicide, pain, self-reported wellbeing, age patterns, Gallup Healthways Wellbeing Index, Gallup World Poll

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