There is an extensive body of empirical work investigating the relationship between the upswings and downswings of the economic cycle and suicide rates. They are emphatically not typically empirically supportive of the prosperity-induced suicide uplift dimension. This lack of clarity pertains to the precise nature of the transmission mechanism by which an economic crisis actually affects suicide. This study posits the hypothesis that this influence broadly translates as emotional reaction, ‘gut feelings’ and as such explicitly considers the use of subjective factors of economic performance to better explain variations in suicide rates. Alongside traditional economic indicators we use a 'consumer sentiment' measure, a sense of how economic factors are perceived to be impacting on individuals, to explain suicide rates. Furthermore, we explicitly consider the impact of the global financial crisis and test the impact of state public and health expenditures. Results show that consumer sentiment is found to offer a significantly greater explanatory role in exploring variations in the suicide rate compared to traditional economic indicators. Moreover, the effect of consumer sentiment is greater for females than for males, with some nuances in explaining this result. State public and health expenditures do not seem to have any significant influence on suicide rates.
- consumer sentiment
- financial crisis