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Suicide: An Economic Approach

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... Economists have also addressed the topic of suicide, with a natural inclination to examine the value of economic theory for understanding the problem (Hamermesh andSoss 1974, Becker andPosner 2004). In one of the first empirical studies to use a time series for the 1947-1967 period in the U.S., Hamermesh and Soss (1974) Chen et al. (2012) also provide a good overview of how socio-economic factors influence suicide. ...
... (pp. 169-170) Thus, the cost of committing suicide and thereby incurring afterlife disutility is higher among Catholics than Protestants (Becker and Posner 2004). The fact that it is obviously impossible to confess (and thus be absolved of) a successful suicide also raises the "price" of suicide in Catholicism relative to any other (sinful) option Woessmann 2011). ...
... Because the gender issue presents a special puzzle -in most countries the male suicide rate is four times higher than the female although self-reported suicide attempts are higher among the latter (Helliwell 1997) -we also control for the share of female citizens. As a potential explanation for this gender inconsistency, Becker and Posner (2004) refer to the literature that interprets suicide attempts as signals of misery and suggests that women can obtain sympathy more easily than men and are less familiar with the more lethal methods that provide a higher probability of success. Canetto and Sakinofsky (1998) also provide a detailed discussion of the gender suicide paradox with a major emphasis on the importance of cultural expectations. ...
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In this study of the persistent social phenomenon of suicide, we find that even though theological and social differences between Catholicism and Protestantism have decreased, Catholics are still less likely than Protestants to commit or accept suicide. This difference remains even after we control for such confounding factors as social and religious networks. Although religious networks do mitigate suicides among Protestants, the influence of church attendance is more dominant among Catholics. The methodological strength of our paper is that it uses two data sets: a 20-year panel for Switzerland and a cross-sectional analysis of alternative religious concepts like religious commitment and religiosity in 414 European regions. We find that these alternative concepts strongly reduce acceptance of suicide.
... Even today, Protestant countries tend to have substantially higher suicide rates, suggesting that the relation of religion and suicide remains a vital topic. 1 Several contributions have so far revealed the usefulness of investigating suicide from an economics point of view (Hamermesh and Soss (1974); Becker and Posner (2004)). 2 But the leading established correlate of suicide in the sociological literature, religious denomination, has received surprisingly little attention in the economics literature, despite the recent burst of interest in issues of culture and religion. 3 While the economics literature on happiness and subjective well-being considers suicide as a measure of utmost unhappiness with the particular advantage over subjective self-reports of being a revealed-preference outcome measure (e.g., Oswald (1997); Layard (2005)), these analyses have so far not been linked to religious denomination. ...
... To do so, we extend the economic theory of suicide developed by Becker and Posner (2004). In line with the pioneering work by Hamermesh and Soss (1974), suicide is modeled as forward-looking utility-maximizing behavior. ...
... Note that the relation has to hold for all segments of life into the future that start in t, because otherwise it would be worth living a little longer to reap some positive utility before large negative utilities set in. In the Becker and Posner (2004) specification, c is normalized to zero by choice of the utility function, but given our aim to explicitly model inter-group differences in the cost of committing suicide, we add c d as a variable that may differ across individuals and is expressed in units commensurate with the utility function. This is similar in spirit to the "distaste for suicide" variable in the Hamermesh and Soss (1974) specification, although the latter is only subject to random variation, whereas we model systematic differences by denomination. ...
Article
We model the effect of Protestant vs. Catholic denomination in an economic theory of suicide, accounting for differences in religious-community integration, views about man’s impact on God’s grace, and the possibility of confessing sins. We test the theory using a unique micro-regional dataset of 452 counties in 19th-century Prussia, when religiousness was still pervasive. Our instrumental-variable model exploits the concentric dispersion of Protestantism around Wittenberg to circumvent selectivity bias. Protestantism had a substantial positive effect on suicide in 1816-21 and 1869-71. We address issues of bias from mental illness, misreporting, weather conditions, within-county heterogeneity, religious concentration, and gender composition.
... They explain the increase in youth suicide rates in the United States by showing that in cases of hyperbolic discounting and random-walk uncertainty, the suicide rate changes non-monotonically with age. Assuming that utility is maximized sequentially over time and that there is an option value The results of age-specific suicide rates are not reported in this Becker and Posner (2004) advance a model that accounts for the risk-taking implications of the utility maximization approach to suicide. As they argue, the opportunities from life are more favourable for unhappy young people than they are for older persons in similar situations; in other words, the young commit suicide less because waiting has a high option value for them. ...
... Therefore, Cutler et al. (2001) argue that even if it is not credible enough, a suicide attempt by a child results in the parents allocating more resources to the child. Becker and Posner (2004), using the option value approach, argue that with the same degree of unhappiness, there are more suicide attempts among poorer, less educated, and younger persons, since they tend to discount the future more. They also propose a second theory where suicide attempts are considered as alternatives or complements to other dangerous activities (such as drugs, drinking, membership in gangs, overeating, risky jobs, etc.) used by people at the bottom end of the utility distribution in desperate efforts to find a way out of their circumstances. ...
... 10 Along these lines, Whitman (2002) proposes a dynamic search model of suicide showing that if the probability of finding a less costly method in the future decreases, for example with a reduction in a method's availability, the suicidal person may become more willing to employ a more costly method in the present, and this may lead to a higher overall suicide rate. 11 Similarly, Becker and Posner (2004) suggest that if the cost of committing suicide in the future increases, other things being equal, the option value of delaying suicide decreases, and therefore the result would be an actual accretion in the suicide rate. 12 In conclusion, the discrepancy in views and conflicting evidence underlines the need for further studies. ...
Article
In this article, we review economic theories and empirical studies on the socioeconomic aspects of suicide. Through our survey, we would like to emphasize the importance of studying suicide by employing a "rational" approach that complements the medical perspective on suicide, which assumes suicide to be the result of "irrational" behavior arising from mental illnesses such as depression and other psychiatric disorders. We first introduce major economic theories of suicide, followed by a summary of a variety of empirical studies from the socioeconomic perspective. We then discuss the recent developments in economic studies on suicide, on the basis of the authors' ongoing project on suicide. In the concluding section, we point out some issues for further studies.
... Yet economists have devoted surprisingly little attention to the topic of suicide. There is a small theoretical literature that seeks to understand the nature of suicidal behavior (e.g., Hamermesh and Soss, 1974, Cutler, Glaeser and Norberg, 2001, Becker and Posner, 2004. Even less attention has been devoted to applying the tools of economics to the problem of suicide prevention. 1 The value of suicide prevention is suggested by research indicating that in many cases, social welfare can be enhanced by helping prevent suicidal people from acting on their desires or directly changing their desire for self-harm. ...
... Even less attention has been devoted to applying the tools of economics to the problem of suicide prevention. 1 The value of suicide prevention is suggested by research indicating that in many cases, social welfare can be enhanced by helping prevent suicidal people from acting on their desires or directly changing their desire for self-harm. As Becker and Posner (2004) note, some people in bad circumstances -particularly the young -may overly discount the prospect that their fortunes will improve in the future. Many people are at elevated risk for suicide because of major depressive disorder, which afflicts between 30 and 90 percent of those who complete suicide (Goldsmith et al., 2002, p. 70) and around 17 percent of all American adults at some point over their lifetimes (Kessler, Berglund et al., 2005). ...
... 3 One study found that among a sample of suicidal elderly people who had requested euthanasia, two-thirds changed their minds within two weeks (Hendin, 1999). This may or may not indicate that the desire to attempt suicide is fleeting, since even those with chronic or terminal health problems may postpone a suicide attempt for the option value of possible improvements in their quality of life in the future, as suggested by Becker and Posner (2004). 4 As the New York Times noted, "The drug agency's concerns are consistent with a growing body of research confirming that behavior is heavily influenced not only by genes but also by seemingly innocuous changes in body chemistry. ...
Article
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The research reported here was supported by small grants to Marcotte and Ludwig from UMBC and the Georgetown University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Norberg was supported with funding from NIH grant 5K08MH001809, and the Center for Health Policy at Washington University. None of the authors have received funding from pharmaceutical companies or other entities with financial interests relevant to the paper's topic. Thanks to seminar participants at the CDC, NBER, APPAM and the University of Chicago for valuable assistance or helpful comments. We thank IMS Health, Inc. for their generosity in providing data on drug sales. Steve Hemelt, Özlen Luznar and Jake Ward provided excellent research assistance. Any errors and all opinions are of course our own. ABSTRACT Suicide takes the lives of around a million people each year. Between 30 and 90 percent of those who complete suicide are thought to suffer from depression. Anti-depressant drug medication is an important tool to help distraught people make it through difficult periods in their lives, but in recent years there has been great and growing controversy about whether one of the best-selling drug classes in the world – selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), an anti-depressant drug introduced in the 1980s – increases or decreases the risk of completed suicide. Economic and medical theory is ambiguous, and there is currently no scientifically credible empirical estimate available on this question. Randomized clinical trials are not informative in this application, in part because sample sizes are too small to detect impacts on relatively rare outcomes like suicide mortality, and most observational studies have used weak research designs. In this paper we present the first estimates for the effects of SSRI on suicide that has both a plausibly exogenous source of identifying variation and adequate statistical power to detect impacts on suicide mortality. We use data from 26 countries for up to 25 years to estimate the effect of SSRI sales on suicide mortality using just the variation in SSRI sales that can be explained by variation in the sales growth of new drugs more generally. We find an increase in SSRI sales of 1 pill per capita (12% of 2000 sales levels) reduces suicide by 5%.
... The proposition that Protestants have higher suicide rates than Catholics has been " accepted widely enough for nomination as sociology's one law " (Pope and Danigelis (1981)). Several contributions have so far revealed the usefulness of investigating suicide from an economics point of view (Hamermesh and Soss (1974); Becker and Posner (2004)). 1 But the leading established correlate of suicide in the sociological literature, religious denomination, has received surprisingly little attention in the economic literature, despite its recent burst of interest in issues of culture and religion. 2 While the economic literature on happiness and subjective well-being has looked at suicide as a measure of utmost unhappiness with the particular advantage over subjective self-reports of being a revealed-preference outcome measure (e.g., Oswald (1997); Layard (2005)), these analyses have so far not been linked to ...
... Additionally, the confession of sins is a holy sacrament in Catholicism, but not in Protestantism. Consequently, extending the Becker and Posner (2004) version of the economic theory of suicide, we model the effect on suicide of the integration of the religious community, views about the impact of man on God's grace, and the impossibility (by definition) of confessing the sin of suicide. We show that within the framework of a rational theory of suicide, these differences in doctrine give rise to a higher propensity to commit suicide among Protestants than among Catholics. ...
... For this, we extend the economic theory of suicide developed by Becker and Posner (2004). In line with the pioneering work by Hamermesh and Soss (1974) , suicide is modeled as forward- 5 See Becker and Posner (2004) for a discussion of the extent to which this may reflect rational behavior. ...
Article
In his 1897 classic, Émile Durkheim presented aggregate indicators suggesting that Protestantism was a leading correlate of suicide incidence. We extend the economic theory of suicide to account for an effect of Protestant vs. Catholic denomination, modeling differences in the integration of the religious community, views about the impact of man on God's grace, and the possibility of confessing sins. We test the theory using a unique new micro-regional dataset of 452 counties in 19 th -century Prussia, when religiousness was still pervasive. Exploiting the geographically concentric dispersion of Protestantism, our instrumental-variable model uses distance to Wittenberg as an instrument for Protestantism to circumvent selectivity bias. Protestantism had a significant and substantial positive effect on suicide both in 1816-21 and in 1869-71. We address issues of biases from misreporting, within-county heterogeneity, mental illness, and several correlates of suicides.
... Yet economists have devoted surprisingly little attention to the topic of suicide. There is a small theoretical literature that seeks to understand the nature of suicidal behavior (e.g., Hamermesh and Soss, 1974, Cutler, Glaeser and Norberg, 2001, Becker and Posner, 2004). Even less attention has been devoted to applying the tools of economics to the problem of suicide prevention. ...
... One behavioral mechanism through which antidepressant drugs might increase suicide risk stems from the potential of TCAs to be highly toxic in overdose, so that a prescription might provide easy access to an effective method of self harm. This type of " instrumentality effect " rests on the assumptions that suicide methods are not perfectly substitutable and that people at high risk for suicide are at least somewhat responsive to the availability of different methods, or in the terminology of economic models of suicide, that instrument availability influences the " costs of death " (Hamermesh and Soss, 1974, Becker and Posner, 2004). ...
... Another behavioral mechanism through which anti-depressant drug treatment could increase the risk of suicide is suggested by the possibility that forward-looking suicidal people who have some uncertainty about their future outcomes may choose to wait to attempt suicide to see if their life conditions improve (Becker and Posner, 2004). People who are hoping that drug therapy may improve their lives could interpret the lack of mood improvement during the early stages of anti-depressant drug treatment as indicating that they will never respond to treatment, and so give up hope that their lives will ever improve. ...
Article
Suicide takes the lives of around a million people each year, most of whom suffer from depression. In recent years there has been growing controversy about whether one of the best-selling anti-depressants – selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – increases or decreases the risk of completed suicide. Randomized clinical trials are not informative in this application because of small samples and other problems. We present what we believe are the most scientifically credible estimates to date on how SSRI sales affect suicide mortality using data from 26 countries for up to 25 years. We exploit just the variation in SSRI sales that can be explained by institutional differences in how drugs are regulated, priced, and distributed, as reflected by the sales growth of new drugs more generally. We find an increase in SSRI sales of 1 pill per capita (12% of 2000 sales levels) reduces suicide by 5%.
... Como hipótese, espera-se que a relação entre essa variável e TX_SUIC seja negativa. Essa hipótese está condicionada à explicação de que, ao obter um nível educacional mais elevado, o indivíduo aumenta seu nível de utilidade por permanecer vivo, posto que uma boa qualificação pode lhe proporcionar uma maior satisfação pessoal e profissional, inclusive um melhor salário e, por consequência, um melhor padrão de vida (Becker;Posner, 2004;Chen et al., 2010). ...
... Como hipótese, espera-se que a relação entre essa variável e TX_SUIC seja negativa. Essa hipótese está condicionada à explicação de que, ao obter um nível educacional mais elevado, o indivíduo aumenta seu nível de utilidade por permanecer vivo, posto que uma boa qualificação pode lhe proporcionar uma maior satisfação pessoal e profissional, inclusive um melhor salário e, por consequência, um melhor padrão de vida (Becker;Posner, 2004;Chen et al., 2010). ...
Article
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Este estudo objetivou analisar as taxas de suicídios registradas nos municípios brasileiros nos anos de 2000 e de 2010, associando esse fenômeno a variáveis econômicas, meteorológicas e sociais. Para isso, utilizou-se de um painel espacial balanceado, bem como de outras ferramentas da econometria espacial. Verificou-se que o modelo espacial mais adequado seria o de defasagem espacial, SAR, evidenciando que a variável dependente é parcialmente determinada pelos valores dela mesma nos municípios vizinhos. No geral, constatou-se que existe efeito transbordamento do suicídio entre os municípios. Além disso, pode-se evidenciar que as variáveis taxa de envelhecimento, taxa de desemprego e temperatura média relacionam-se positivamente com a taxa de suicídios; por outro lado, a proporção de pessoas sem religião, a proporção de divórcios e o volume de chuvas relacionam-se negativamente.
... Using this model, they show that better economic conditions may lower the overall level of terrorism while increasing the proportion of suicide attacks. Becker and Posner (2005) also highlight the impact of market opportunities on suicide bombers. Unlike Bueno de Mesquita (2005a) and Rosendorff and Sandler (2010), Becker and Posner (2005) focus exclusively on individuals' decision making and do not incorporate into the analysis the strategic considerations of terror organizations or the targeted government. ...
... Becker and Posner (2005) also highlight the impact of market opportunities on suicide bombers. Unlike Bueno de Mesquita (2005a) and Rosendorff and Sandler (2010), Becker and Posner (2005) focus exclusively on individuals' decision making and do not incorporate into the analysis the strategic considerations of terror organizations or the targeted government. resided in Nablus and Jenin, only two suicide terrorists resided in the neighboring districts of Salfit, Tubas, and Jericho. ...
... They provide evidence for these mechanisms by appeal to the National Comorbidity survey, where they find individuals with (unsuccessful) suicide attempts have higher income than their peers with common suicidal ideation but lacking a suicide attempt. Becker and Posner (2004) introduces greater uncertainty over the life cycle of an agent when considering rational utility-maximizes behavior for unhappy individuals. The framework provides valuable corrections and extensions to the Hamermesh and Soss (1974) optimizing approach, allowing for greater testable predictions of the rationality theory of suicide. ...
... Fundamentally, the criticism of Becker and Posner (2004), Marcotte (2003), and Hamermesh and Soss (1974) are the same. These models approach an issue that is inappropriate for the rational choice framework. ...
Article
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With a growing debate over tighter firearm regulations, we consider an important social consequence of increased firearm access: increased firearm suicides. Using data from the federal criminal background check system, we consider the impact of firearm ownership on firearm suicide rates. To deal with concerns of identification, we instrument for firearm background checks with state-year-level Google search intensity for phrases that reflect fear of future gun shortages and learning about the constitutional rights of firearm owners. We find that an increase in firearm ownership has a sizable and statistically significant impact on firearm suicide rates. A 10% increase in firearm ownership increases firearm suicide rates by approximately 3%, which is five times larger than non-instrumented estimates. Furthermore, we find no effect of gun ownership on non-firearm suicide rates, suggesting our findings are not simply capturing a suicide method substitution effect. The results are consistent with a variety of validity and robustness tests. Our results make clear the link between firearm ownership and firearm suicide rates, which have increased dramatically over the last decade.
... religion and suicide remains a vital topic. 1 Several contributions have so far revealed the usefulness of investigating suicide from an economics point of view (Hamermesh & Soss, 1974;Becker & Posner, 2004;Chen et al., 2012). 2 But religious denomination, a leading established correlate of suicide in the sociological literature, has received surprisingly little attention in the economics literature, despite the recent burst of interest in issues of culture and religion. 3 While the economics literature on happiness and subjective well-being considers suicide as a revealed-preference outcome measure of utmost unhappiness (Oswald, 1997;Layard, 2005), these analyses so far have not been linked to religious denomination. ...
... Our model framework extends the economic theory of suicide developed by Hamermesh and Soss (1974) and Becker and Posner (2004). Suicide is modeled as forward-looking utility-maximizing behavior. ...
Article
Full-text available
In an economic theory of suicide, we model social cohesion of the religious community and religious beliefs about afterlife as two mechanisms by which Protestantism increases suicide propensity. We build a unique microregional data set of 452 Prussian counties for 1816 to 1821 and 1869 to 1871, when religiousness was still pervasive. Exploiting the concentric dispersion of Protestantism around Wittenberg, our instrumental variable model finds that Protestantism had a substantial positive effect on suicide. Results are corroborated in first-difference models. Tests relating to the two mechanisms based on historical church attendance data and modern suicide data suggest that the sociological channel plays the more important role. © 2018 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
... But the health literature documents a gender paradox (McLoughlin et al., 2015): females have higher frequency of nonfatal suicide attempts and males have more frequent suicide completions (Cutler et al., 2001;Molina and Duarte, 2006;CDC, 2016). One explanation for this heterogeneity in nonfatal suicides is that women are more likely to talk about their feelings (Becker and Posner, 2004) in expectation of eliciting more sympathy than men-since men are supposed to be more immune to psychological distress (Cutler et al., 2001)-while women have lower fatal suicides because they choose methods that are less likely to lead to death (e.g., poison, pills) compared to men (guns or other violent methods) (Becker and Posner, 2004). ...
... But the health literature documents a gender paradox (McLoughlin et al., 2015): females have higher frequency of nonfatal suicide attempts and males have more frequent suicide completions (Cutler et al., 2001;Molina and Duarte, 2006;CDC, 2016). One explanation for this heterogeneity in nonfatal suicides is that women are more likely to talk about their feelings (Becker and Posner, 2004) in expectation of eliciting more sympathy than men-since men are supposed to be more immune to psychological distress (Cutler et al., 2001)-while women have lower fatal suicides because they choose methods that are less likely to lead to death (e.g., poison, pills) compared to men (guns or other violent methods) (Becker and Posner, 2004). ...
Article
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Even though several youth fatal suicides have been linked with school victimization, there is lack of evidence on whether cyberbullying victimization causes students to adopt suicidal behaviors. To investigate this issue, I use exogenous state-year variation in cyberbullying laws and information on high school students from the Youth Risk Behavioral Survey within a bivariate probit framework, and complement these estimates with matching techniques. I find that cyberbullying has a strong impact on all suicidal behaviors: it increases suicidal thoughts by 14.5 percentage points and suicide attempts by 8.7 percentage points. Even if the focus is on statewide fatal suicide rates, cyberbullying still leads to significant increases in suicide mortality, with these effects being stronger for men than for women. Since cyberbullying laws have an effect on limiting cyberbullying, investing in cyberbullying—preventing strategies can improve individual health by decreasing suicide attempts, and increase the aggregate health stock by decreasing suicide rates.
... Using this model, they show that better economic conditions may lower the overall level of terrorism while increasing the proportion of suicide attacks. Becker and Posner (2005) also highlight the impact of market opportunities on suicide bombers. Unlike Bueno de Mesquita (2005a) and Rosendorff and Sandler (2010), Becker and Posner (2005) focus exclusively on individuals' decision making and do not incorporate into the analysis the strategic considerations of terror organizations or the targeted government. ...
... Becker and Posner (2005) also highlight the impact of market opportunities on suicide bombers. Unlike Bueno de Mesquita (2005a) and Rosendorff and Sandler (2010), Becker and Posner (2005) focus exclusively on individuals' decision making and do not incorporate into the analysis the strategic considerations of terror organizations or the targeted government. resided in Nablus and Jenin, only two suicide terrorists resided in the neighboring districts of Salfit, Tubas, and Jericho. ...
... And before such a law may be up for vote, it has to be proposed first by a member of the Parliament and then assigned to a Parliamentary Commission (Commissione Parlamentare). 3 From there, once the proposal has been discussed and appropriately prepared, it is sent to the parliamentary chamber that currently sets the agenda. To be approved, the proposal has to be voted without further changes in either of the two Chambers of Parliament, the Camera dei Deputati and the Senato della Repubblica. ...
... After all, if being imprisoned is very likely to lead to the ultimate penalty, a rational agent should have foreseen and avoided this contingency at all costs, including not becoming a criminal in the first place. Theoretically, the apparent paradox may be explained by the hypothesis that criminal behavior reflects the choice to accept a gamble of high returns from crime against committing suicide if apprehended and convicted (see Becker and Posner [3] for a detailed discussion). In more practical terms, it could be driven by error, the inability of some criminals to foresee how harsh prison conditions can be. ...
Article
Are suicides rational? At least since the 70's economists have been trying to shed light on this question by studying whether suicide rates are related to contemporaneous economic conditions. This paper goes one step further: we test whether suicides are linked to forward-looking behavior. In Italy, collective sentence reductions (pardons) often lead to massive releases of prisoners. More importantly, they are usually preceded by prolonged parliamentary activity (legislative proposals, discussion, voting, etc.) that inmates seem to follow closely. We use the legislative proposals for collective pardons to measure changes in the inmates' expectations about their date of release, and find that suicide rates tend to be significantly lower when pardons are proposed in congress. This suggests that, amongst inmates in Italian prisons, the average decision to commit suicide has a rational component.
... Using this model, they show that better economic conditions may lower the overall level of terrorism while increasing the proportion of suicide attacks. Becker and Posner (2005) also highlight the impact of market opportunities on suicide bombers. Unlike Bueno de Mesquita (2005a) and Rosendorff and Sandler (2010), Becker and Posner (2005) focus exclusively on individuals' decision making and do not incorporate into the analysis the strategic considerations of terror organizations or the targeted government. ...
... Becker and Posner (2005) also highlight the impact of market opportunities on suicide bombers. Unlike Bueno de Mesquita (2005a) and Rosendorff and Sandler (2010), Becker and Posner (2005) focus exclusively on individuals' decision making and do not incorporate into the analysis the strategic considerations of terror organizations or the targeted government. resided in Nablus and Jenin, only two suicide terrorists resided in the neighboring districts of Salfit, Tubas, and Jericho. ...
Article
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We analyze the link between economic conditions and the quality of suicide terrorism. While the existing empirical literature shows that poverty and economic conditions are not correlated with the quantity of terror, theory predicts that poverty and poor economic conditions may affect the quality of terror. Poor economic conditions may lead more able, better-educated individuals to participate in terror attacks, allowing terror organizations to send better-qualified terrorists to more complex, higher-impact, terror missions. Using the universe of Palestinian suicide terrorists against Israeli targets between the years 2000 and 2006 we provide evidence on the correlation between economic conditions, the characteristics of suicide terrorists and the targets they attack. High levels of unemployment enable terror organizations to recruit more educated, mature and experienced suicide terrorists who in turn attack more important Israeli targets.
... We model the choice of tactics by rebels when targets can be either hard or soft and rebels are concerned about capture and defection. We first outline the beliefs that suicide attackers would need to hold for their actions to be deemed rational (Hamermesh and Soss, 1974; Elster, 2005; Becker and Posner, 2005; Wintrobe 2006). We then consider the attacker and his organization in a rational choice framework. ...
... That would appear to be inconsistent with the findings of Berrebi (2003) and Krueger and Maleckova (2003) who find that leaders and suicide attackers tend to have about the same income levels as their neighbors, and higher educational levels. This issue should be addressed with attention to selection, as pointed out by Becker and Posner (2005). The harder the targets, the more leaders will select the most educated cadre available who can be trusted, as shown by Benmelech and Berrebi (2006) using evidence from Israel/Palestine. ...
Article
Can rational models, once theological explanations are discredited, explain why certain radical religious rebels are so successful in perpetrating suicide attacks? The fundamental barrier to success turns out not to be recruiting suicide attackers; there is a rational basis for volunteering. Rather, the barrier is the danger of other operatives defecting. A club model, portraying voluntary religious organizations as efficient providers of local public goods, explains how they weed out potential defectors by requiring sacrifices as signals of commitment. They are thereby able to succeed in risky terrorist attacks. The model has testable implications for tactic choice and damage achieved by clubs and other rebel organizations. Data spanning a half-century on both terrorists and civil war insurgents, much from Middle East sources and Israel/Palestine, reveal that: a) missions organized by radical religious clubs that provide benign local public goods are both more lethal and are more likely to be suicide attacks than missions organized by other terrorist groups with similar aims and theologies; and b) suicide attacks are chosen when targets are “hard,” i.e., difficult to destroy. Our results suggest benign tactics to counter radical religious terrorism and insurgency.
... The chapter with the ominous title "Suicide, Drugs, and Alcohol" looks more like a script for a neo-noire film than a text by two prominent economists -with one exception. The authors brush away, rather unjustifiably, the economic theory of suicide, proposed by Daniel S. Hammermesh and Neal M. Soss (1974) and supported by Garry S. Becker and Richard A. Posner (2004), emphasizing rational behaviour in the minimisation of the misery and pain that lie ahead, and they subscribe to Emil Durkheim's view that "we must think about society, not just individuals" (p. 98). ...
... It was further developed by Cutler et al. (2001) through a three-stage dynamic optimization model with uncertainty. Suicide decisions have also been explained through the risk-taking implications of the utility maximization approach by Becker and Posner (2004); a real option approach and Knightian uncertainty by Miao and Wang (2007); and via comparative statics by Suzuki (2008). ...
... In response to increasing rates of suicide in the United States, economists have recently renewed their interest in understanding the determinants of suicide, with greater emphasis on empirical studies. While the theoretical approaches of Hamermesh and Soss (1974), and later Marcotte (2003) and Becker and Posner (2004), utilize a purely individual rational framework, more recent empirical work has focused on embedding individual decisions within a broader social fabric, as in Daly et al. (2011) and Daly et al. (2013). Cutler et al. (2001) studies youth suicide determinants through the lens of signaling and contagion, where suicide is impacted by peer group pressures and often is a signal for help. ...
Working Paper
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We quantify the impact of transferring productivity-enhancing military surplus equipment to law enforcement on suicide and mortality in the United States. Our strategy relies on federal budget allocations to military within a state to instrument for the value of equipment transferred to law enforcement within the state. We find evidence that the average state-level annual transfer of surplus military equipment to local law enforcement agencies (about $2 million) reduces suicide rates by 0.28 standard deviations. The majority of the reduction in suicide rates stems from a reduction in firearm suicide rates, suggesting more effective police forces reduce the need for households to secure their own property with firearms. For robustness, we show our results do not change in consideration of an alternative instrument or different measures of militarization, are robust to concerns about the timing of transfers and simultaneity, and that our strategy does not spuriously explain mortality from causes of death unrelated to public safety.
... With more than half of India's working population employed in agriculture, one third lying below the international poverty line, and nearly all experiencing rising temperatures due to anthropogenic climate change, these arguments appear plausible. However, the relationship between economic shocks and suicide is controversial (3,4,(7)(8)(9), and, in India, the effect of income-damaging climate variation on suicide rates is unknown. Although the national government has recently announced a $1.3 billion climate-based crop insurance scheme motivated as suicide prevention policy (10), evidence to support such an intervention is lacking. ...
Article
Significance Suicide is a stark indicator of human hardship, yet the causes of these deaths remain understudied, particularly in developing countries. This analysis of India, where one fifth of the world’s suicides occur, demonstrates that the climate, particularly temperature, has strong influence over a growing suicide epidemic. With 47 y of suicide records and climate data, I show that high temperatures increase suicide rates, but only during India’s growing season, when heat also reduces crop yields. My results are consistent with widely cited theories of economic suicide in India. Moreover, these findings have important implications for future climate change; I estimate that warming temperature trends over the last three decades have already been responsible for over 59,000 suicides throughout India.
... They find that in the US, suicide rates are generally lower amongst higher-income groups and that the suicide behaviour of older people is more sensitive to changes in permanent income than that of younger ones. Such a utility-based approach to suicide has since been adopted and further developed, notably 5 by [10], who incorporate into their analysis the option value from delaying the act of suicide, and [11], who study the implications of this for the risk-taking behaviour of individuals over their lifecycle. Our model falls outside this utility-based approach, as it investigates whether suicide as the result of genetic hazard and independent from socio-economic factors is evolutionarily sustainable. ...
Article
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We analyze a model in which individuals have hereditary reproductive types. The reproductive value of an individual is determined by her reproductive type and the amount of resources she can access. We introduce the possibility of suicide and assume it is also a genetic trait that interacts with the reproductive type of an individual. The main result of the paper is that populations where suicide is possible grow faster than other populations.
... While a rich body of literature has developed that seeks to explain the nature of business cooperation, two broad streams of economic analysis can be distinguished that have been of particular importance. The first applies neo-classical microeconomic theory to human behavior (Becker 1976). Starting from the premise of methodological individualism, that the individual actor is the relevant unit for analysis, Becker assumes that individuals make rational choices according to their self-interest, although their rationality can be bounded due to lack of information. ...
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This article discuss about agricultural cooperatives capital structures with the New Institutional Economics Approach, in particular the Transaction Cost Economics point of view. At the end, it is possible to conclude that the cooperative enterprises, as a consequence of the financial and social structure governance costs, present a wider structure of transaction and agency costs, when compared with other forms of business organization. Our objective in the above discussion is to advance a conceptual framework using new institutional economics theories that draws attention to the importance of the organizational structure of contractors for the design of the proliferation of contracts increasingly governing agricultural production. Understanding the interplay between organizational form and contract structure is a necessary step in understanding why and how contracting is occurring, where and when it does. This article also shows that Transaction Cost Economics theory is an efficient tool to explain the organizational capital structure and the micro-analytical details not yet appreciated by the usual analyses. DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2013.v4n9p64
... Because the gender issue presents a special puzzle-in most countries the male suicide rate is four times higher than the female, although self-reported suicide attempts are higher among the latter (Helliwell 2007)-we also control for the share of female citizens. As a potential explanation for this gender inconsistency, Becker and Posner (2004) refer to the literature that interprets suicide attempts as signals of misery and suggests that women can obtain sympathy more easily than men and are less familiar with the more lethal methods that provide a higher probability of success. Canetto and Sakinofsky (1998) also provide a detailed discussion of the gender suicide paradox with a major emphasis on the importance of cultural expectations. ...
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Suicide has remained a persistent social phenomenon and now accounts for more deaths than motor vehicle accidents. There has been much debate, however, over which religious constructs might best explain the variation in suicide rates. Our empirical analysis reveals that even though theological and social differences between Catholicism and Protestantism have decreased, Catholics are still less likely than Protestants to commit or accept suicide. This difference holds even after we control for such confounding factors as social and religious networks. In addition, although religious networks do mitigate suicides among Protestants, the influence of church attendance is more dominant among Catholics. Our analysis also indicates that alternative concepts such as religious commitment and religiosity strongly reduce suicide acceptance.
... Because the gender issue presents a special puzzle-in most countries the male suicide rate is four times higher than the female, although self-reported suicide attempts are higher among the latter (Helliwell 2007)-we also control for the share of female citizens. As a potential explanation for this gender inconsistency, Becker and Posner (2004) refer to the literature that interprets suicide attempts as signals of misery and suggests that women can obtain sympathy more easily than men and are less familiar with the more lethal methods that provide a higher probability of success. Canetto and Sakinofsky (1998) also provide a detailed discussion of the gender suicide paradox with a major emphasis on the importance of cultural expectations. ...
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Suicide has remained a persistent social phenomenon and now accounts for more deaths than motor vehicle accidents. There has been much debate, however, over which religious constructs might best explain the variation in suicide rates. Our empirical analysis reveals that even though theological and social differences between Catholicism and Protestantism have decreased, Catholics are still less likely than Protestants to commit or accept suicide. This difference holds even after we control for such confounding factors as social and religious networks. In addition, although religious networks do mitigate suicides among Protestants, the influence of church attendance is more dominant among Catholics. Our analysis also indicates that alternative concepts such as religious commitment and religiosity strongly reduce suicide acceptance.
... (f) a narrower redefinition of economics as the science of prices and the market. Especially in the light of claims (c) and (f), how do our authors deal with Lionel Robbins's (1932) apparently different redefinition of economics as the 'science of choice' and Gary Becker's (1976 Becker's ( , 1981) wider application of neoclassical economic analysis to non-market and 'social' phenomena such as the family? Do these moves undermine the claim of Fine and ...
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The Working Paper Series is intended for rapid dissemination of research results, work-in-progress, and innovative teaching methods, at the pre-publication stage. Comments are welcomed and should be addressed to the individual author(s). It should be remembered that papers in this series are often provisional and comments and/or citations should take account of this. Copyright and all rights therein are retained by authors. All persons copying this information are expected to adhere to the terms and conditions invoked by each author's copyright. These works may not be re-posted without the explicit permission of the copyright holders. The Business School at the University of Hertfordshire (UH) employs approximately 150 academic staff in a state-of-the-art environment located in Hatfield Business Park. It offers 17 undergraduate degree programmes, 21 postgraduate programmes and there are about 80 research students, mostly working at doctoral level. Business School staff are active in research in numerous areas, including complexity theory, institutional economics, economic modelling, efficiency measurement the creative industries, employment studies, finance, accounting, statistical methods and management science. The University of Hertfordshire has been recognised as the exemplar of a business-facing university. It is one of the region's largest employers with over 2,700 staff and a turnover of £205 m. In the 2008 UK Research Assessment Exercise it was given the highest rank for research quality among the post-1992 universities.
... This explains the remaining empirical regularity. 1 Other papers also employ a rational framework when analyzing seemingly non-rational behavior. For example, there is a distinct literature that investigates crime (Becker (1968), Glaser et al (1996), suicides (Hamermesh and Soss (1974), Becker and Posner (2005), and Cutler et al (2001)), martyrs and terrorism (Berman and Laitin (2005), Berman (2004), Iannaccone (2006, and Benmelech and Berrebi (2007)), hate (Glaeser (2005)) , love (Hess (2004)) and war (Hess and Orphanides (1995)). Of course, there could be readers who wish to accept the empirical evidence that there is a decline in the number of heroes while simply dismissing our economic-based explanation for the following reason: namely, for whatever arbitrary reason, the government decided to reduce the number of recipients. ...
Article
Heroism is a valued part of any society, yet its realization depends on the decisions of individual actors and a public reward to individuals who undertake heroic actions. Military combat related activities provide a useful starting point for thinking about the empirical nature of heroism. Interestingly, if we define heroism by those who have been awarded military honors such as the Congressional Medal of Honor, the number of heroes has actually fallen in the past 35 years. We develop a theory to explain heroism in a rational decision-making framework, and we model the case in which individuals respond to danger to themselves and others based on the costs and benefits associated with acts of courage. We also provide insight into how a government may wish to optimally subsidize heroic actions. We then use our model to understand why the observed decline in heroism could, in fact, be both an optimal individual and social response.
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O suicídio é reconhecido internacionalmente como um problema de saúdepública que figura entre as dez causas de mortes mais frequentes entre a populaçãoem geral, superando a quantidade de mortes por conflitos armados. No Brasil, segundo dados do Sistema de Informações de Mortalidade, para cada suicídio registrado,estima-se que existem mais de 20 tentativas não reportadas. O sub-registro, aliado àraridade e às características inerentes a sua distribuição, torna o fenômeno ainda maiscomplexo, especialmente no contexto brasileiro, em que as dimensões continentaiscomportam heterogeneidades socioeconômicas e culturais. No intuito de verificar a influência de fatores socioeconômicos na presença de interações espaciais, utiliza-se ummodelo tobit espacialmente defasado aplicado a dados municipais de 2010. A abordagem empírica adotada representa um importante avanço na literatura, já que, alémde considerar a autocorrelação espacial a um nível de agregação que, até então, nãoera comum às pesquisas a respeito do suicídio, também oferece um tratamento paravariáveis censuradas. Os principais resultados corroboram estudos anteriores acercada influência significativa dos fatores socioeconômicos e confirmam efeitos multiplicadores espaciais, consistentes com os postulados durkheimianos sobre o efeito-contágio.Portanto, é desejável que políticas públicas para contenção e prevenção do suicídiolevem em consideração não só aspectos socioeconômicos e demográficos, como também a distribuição territorial das ocorrências e a interação espacial existente entre elas.
Article
Local governments in autocracies typically undercompensate residents for their land and take it through eminent domain, while residents lack effective formal channels for bargaining with them. I find that some residents nonetheless can defend against such predation through extralegal land bargaining. By sending resistance signals to challenge the legitimacy of local governments, publicize their grievances, and garner public sympathy, such residents embarrass governments, make it likely higher-level governments will punish local governments, and spur concessions. Such signals, however, are often costly or unavailable, so only resistant entrepreneurs can send them. I illustrate the argument by treating ‘nail-house resistance’ in China as a resistance signal: by refusing to vacate their houses, engaging in violence or self-burning, or turning to the media, some residents stop land takings or gain compensation. The findings enrich our understanding of the political and moral economy of land bargaining and institutional change in a transitional autocracy.
Article
This paper employs a high dimensional variable selection technique to select a subset of suicide determinants from 167 potential factors, which are then used to estimate ‘natural’ suicide rates for US states by least squares dummy variables. Over the period 2005-2017, all states are found to have a non-zero and positive natural suicide rate, below their respective actual average rate. Higher actual rates suggest deterioration in socioeconomic conditions; inaccessible and unaffordable mental health care for certain sections of the population and inadequate implementation of measures to identify and reduce suicidal mortality. Evidence-informed policies aiming for zero suicide target could draw inspiration from exemplar states, to direct resources towards states with greater relative differences between actual average and natural suicide rates.
Article
This paper explores the relationship between future time reference (FTR) in language and suicide behavior on both country level and individual level and provides a new source to explain the huge variation of suicide behaviors across countries. We find that language markers on future tense have impacts on the speakers’ behaviors that involve intertemporal considerations, even the most critical decision on life – the suicide behavior. On aggregate level, countries with primary languages marking future tense intensively in grammar have lower suicide rates. We prove this effect is consistent with the results obtained on individual level: Individuals speaking strong FTR languages tend to have lower acceptance on both suicide and euthanasia.
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Every economic explanation assumes maximization. How strange, then, that few economists accept one of maximization's most straightforward implications: every observed institution is efficient . My aim is to persuade economists of this fact and thus to dissuade them from making illogical claims about social welfare. To frame my argument, I consider the “property rights approach” to institutions developed by Yoram Barzel. I speculate that economists resist what maximization implies about institutional efficiency because they think that efficiency-always precludes them from improving the world, and hope of improving the world is what attracted them to economics in the first place. But, besides being inconsistent, resistance is unnecessary: efficiency-always does not preclude economists, or anyone else, from improving the world.
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This paper analyzes the effect of suicide exemption clause on the suicide rate among the life-insured in Korea. The suicide exemption clause refers to the life insurers being exempted from paying the death benefit to the beneficiaries when the insured commits suicide within a certain period of taking out a policy, and it is designed to avoid the purchase of life insurance policy solely to seek the death benefit by committing suicide. Our analysis, which utilizes the dataset of the life-insured in Korea from 2006 to 2010, suggests that the suicide rate among the life-insured increases drastically right after the suicide exemption period, currently set at 24-month in Korea. Furthermore, unlike the trends found in natural and accidental deaths, the highest suicide rate is observed right after the suicide exemption period, while the concentration of suicide commitment is found within a year after the suicide exemption period. Using a standard economic apparatus on risk-taking behavior, this paper also suggests that the extension or perpetuation of suicide exemption period may negate the problems of adverse selection and moral hazard caused by suicidal behaviors in insurance market and, thus, may lower the suicide rate among the insured.
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At the population studied the material alcohol significance for completed suicide (SU) of men and women in the 1959-2013 biennium. During this period, a decrease in the proportion of SU women from 20% to 14%. A substantial reduction of SU since 2002, the rate of progression of which started to slow down since 2009 shows a linear relationship with the level of SU alcohol within 13-22 liters per year on the forehead-century 15+ and SU correlation with alcohol consumption levels (0,735 men and 0,416 women). The main result - 46% in the Russian SU men and 38% women is directly related to the abuse of alcohol, eat. An example of the relation of alcohol and socio-economic factors SU.
Chapter
The fundamental unit of activity of the brain is the neuron. It ingests nutrients, receives chemical signals from other neurons, and fires (produces electro-chemical action potentials), which results in sending chemical signals (that is, neurotransmitters) to other neurons. Human brains are estimated to have as many as 100 billion neurons. A first task of neuroeconomics is to accumulate information about the behaviour of collections of neurons and how they interact to produce economic choices.
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Is the assumed self-interested behavior in economics at odds with altruism and compassion? I believe that this question — which has been formulated in various ways in the literature for the past two centuries — is the thorn that often turns us away from reconciling the Adam Smith of the Wealth of Nations (hereinafter WN) with the Adam Smith of The Theory of Moral Sentiments (hereinafter TMS). Economics has certainly made WN the most known contribution by Smith since it is generally assumed that the publication of WN marks the beginning of economics as a discipline independent from philosophy. Indeed, it is a widely held belief that the concept of self-interest is not only central to WN, it also established self-interest as the founding principle of economic theory. For example, in his ‘Mathematical Psychics: an Essay on the Application of Mathematics to the Moral Sciences,’ F. Y. Edgeworth wrote, ‘the first principle of economics is that every agent is actuated by self interest’ (1881, p. 16). This was a received view at the time and the sentiment has not changed much since then, although the self-interest paradigm has graduated into the more sophisticated abstraction of utility-maximizing behavior. Under this more palatable name, self-interested behavior has been attributed more broadly to all human behavior, not just economic phenomena. Gary Becker, for example, claims that ‘the economic approach is a comprehensive one that is applicable to all human behavior’ (1976, p. 8).
Chapter
Better theory enables better practice, or it is not worth the bother. If a theory does not help those in positions of influence to guide efforts and alignments relevant to the health of their community, it is little better than intellectual entertainment, a distraction. Good theory helps people in positions of influence, many of whom might not think of themselves as “leaders,” to achieve deep accountability for how they use their influence and live their lives. They seek accountability that is deep-rooted in an understanding of the complexity of life and in respect for its forms, aware of the turbulence it contains, sensitive to the variety of levels and scales at which human relationships matter, and worthy of the weight their decisions must support over time. We have defined health as comprehensive well-being, and linked it to freedom via Amartya Sen’s theory of development, and to justice by calling on Paul Ricoeur’s analysis of ethics as rooted in an understanding of the self as constituted by another. Deep accountability for health takes account of all three dimensions of human life.
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This chapter endeavors to convince the reader that unconventional economics is helpful to better understand issues concerned with social capital, corporate social responsibility and sustainable development. I hasten to add that this does not mean that standard neoclassical economics is superfluous and a waste of effort. Quite the contrary, neoclassics is important as a background theory into which the unorthodox elements can be introduced. Thus, the basic tenet of neoclassics, the strictly individualistic approach in which individuals seek to maximize their utility and are restricted by all sorts of economic (such as income or time) and institutional (such as the organization of industry or the governance of the state) constraints, is accepted and followed. Indeed, I presume standard neoclassics to be known by the reader both with respect to its fundamental features as well as to its specific theories and results.
Chapter
Gerhard Schwödiauer hat sich in seinen Schriften sowohl den Grundlagen wie auch den wirtschaftspolitischen Anwendungen der Ökonomie gewidmet. Obwohl ihm eine eindeutige Bevorzugung von mathematischer Exaktheit und logischer Schlussfolgerung nicht fremd ist, hat er sich doch auch in den letzten Jahren viel mit Fragen beschäftigt, die auf Grund ihres polit-ökonomischen Charakters keine eindeutigen Antworten zulassen. Dazu gehört auch die Bedeutung der Bildung und des Funktionierens von Institutionen in Wirtschaften im Übergang zu dezentralen Marktwirtschaften mit privatem Eigentum am Produktionskapital.
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This thesis by papers uses rational choice theory to consider the relative performance of individual exit and collective voice in politics, as well as the causal relationships between exit and voice as individual strategies and institutionalised means of controlling government behaviour. Following the methodological approach of Geoffrey Brennan and Alan Hamlin, the papers of this thesis are examples of ‘revisionist public choice theory,’ retaining the broad framework of rational choice while relaxing one or more of the standard assumptions generally made by economists. In particular, the papers of this thesis consider otherregarding preferences, non-instrumental preferences, dispositional choice, epistemic rationality, non-efficiency evaluative standards, and non-equilibrium dynamics. By taking a revisionist approach, I am able to steer a path between the excessive abstraction of much public choice theory and the insufficient rigour of much normative political theory. Jointly, the papers of this thesis contribute to broad debates over the relative value of exit and voice in political settings, with relevance to questions of democracy versus the market, centralism versus localism, and bureaucracy versus market-like modes of governance. Though I cover a range of diverse topics in this thesis, I generally argue for a strongly revisionist approach to political analysis which sees significant behavioural differences between individual and collective decisions while grounding all action in common motivational assumptions.
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There are persistent differences in self-reported subjective wellbeing across US metropolitan areas, and residents of declining cities appear less happy than others. Yet some people continue to move to these areas, and newer residents appear to be as unhappy as longerterm residents. While historical data on happiness are limited, the available facts suggest that cities that are now declining were also unhappy in their more prosperous past. These facts support the view that individuals do not maximize happiness alone but include it in the utility function along with other arguments. People may trade off happiness against other competing objectives.
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The debate on the existence of laws in individual and social behaviour dates back to the very beginnings of economics as a modern science. In adopting the concept of natural laws from classical mechanics, economics originally evolved as ‘social physics.’ But is it really appropriate to transfer the idea of precise and accurate laws to social life and social science? We attempt to answer this question by scrutinizing the methodological foundations of the discipline. In particular, this paper addresses the concepts of rationality, historicity, and objectivity – all located at the very heart of economics and all essential in developing a viable, empirically corroborated theory to face and embrace economic complexity.
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We investigate the determinants of suicide in Finland using annual data for consumption and suicides from 1860 to 2010. Instead of using some ad hoc measures of cyclical movements of the economy, we build our analysis on a more solid economic theory. A key feature is the habit persistence in preferences, which provides a way to measure individual well-being and predict suicide. We estimate time series of habit levels and develop an indicator (the hardship index) to describe the economic hardship of consumers. The higher the level of the index, the worse off consumers are. As a rational response to such a bad situation, some consumers might commit suicide. We employ the autoregressive distributed lags cointegration method and find that our index works well in explaining the long-term behavior of people committing suicide in Finland.
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Version of August 20, 2006 Word Count: 2232 This symposium was originally motivated by what we saw as two striking features of the debate about the future of history of economics. First, we were struck by the fact that although many of the participants in this debate take the future to be bleak indeed, significant numbers of young, smart, and ambitious scholars continue to join the field. There is in fact much reason for concern: the decreasing weight attached to history of thought in economics education (especially in top-ranked research institutions), the decline in opportunities to pursue graduate study in this field, the small number of job openings for historians of economics, and so on. Though apparently aware of all this, young scholars continue to make history of economics their discipline; their presence is obvious at annual meetings of national and international organizations, in summer schools, and elsewhere. Presumably, this does not just reveal a preference for a future in the discipline, but also a belief that there will be such a discipline, and that it will contain a place for them. It is possible that many of these young scholars are in for a nasty surprise, but their existence might also signal that the future of the discipline is not quite as depressing as some would have it.
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Suicide as a form of political protest is a little studied social phenomenon that cannot be dismissed simply as being irrational or patholognomic. We consider protest suicide to be a meaningful social action as purposive political act intended to change oppressive policies or practices. This paper synthesizes theoretical propositions associated with suicide in general, and protest suicide in particular, so as to construct a general explanatory model of protest suicide as a social phenomenon. Then, it analyzes protest suicide as a meaningful social action. People considering protest suicide have to discern the logic of the situation in which such action is to take place. This involves answering two fundamental questions: Is suicide an acceptable course of social action? Is the envisaged protest suicide likely to achieve their hopes, aspirations and goals? How these questions are answered gives rise to a set of protest suicide archetypes. Our analysis generates a more sophisticated understanding of the potential reasons for, and motivations behind, protest suicide as a social phenomenon.
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Brennan and Hamlin provide a normative justification for dispositional conservatism based on the concave value functions which give rise to quasi-risk aversion. This note modifies this argument for “analytic conservatism” by allowing jurisdictional exit in response to institutional decline. By providing a welfare floor which limits the cost of failure, exit reverses the normative implications of Brennan and Hamlin’s argument, making risk-neutral agents quasi-risk seeking and justifying a radical disposition to reform under some circumstances.
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This paper analyzes the impact of economic prospects on one’s time preference. Research in psychol- ogy has shown how individuals modify their preferences in order to reduce their cognitive dissonance, which is the uncomfortable tension felt when simultaneously holding conflicting thoughts. It occurs among the poor when simultaneously caring about their future welfare while having gloomy economic prospects. Hence closing their eyes on the future can reduce their psychological distress at the cost of worsening their future economic wellbeing. This paper offers a new theoretical approach that decom- poses time discounting and analyzes the endogenous determination of one’s time horizon. The model predicts that, below a certain wealth, the time horizon of an individual is decreasing in poverty, result- ing in a behavioral poverty trap. The prediction is tested using data from a randomized experiment in Mozambique, which confirms that the beneficiaries of an agro-input subsidy and a matched savings intervention increased their planning horizon as a result of their improved economic prospects.
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My philosophical case study concerns textbook presentations of the theory of demand. Does this theory contain anything more than just a collection of tautologies? In order to determine its empirical content, it must be viewed holistically. But then, the theory implies false factual claims. We can avoid this result by embracing the theory’s normative character. The resulting consequences will be illuminated with the new autodetermination thesis recently proposed in the philosophy of physics by Oliver Timmer. Applying his ideas to the theory of demand reveals that the statements of this discipline simultaneously concern both values and facts.
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Heroism emerges when individual decisions are coupled with public rewards for heroic actions, making heroism akin to the voluntary provision of a highly specialized public good. In the past 35 years, however, the number of heroes has fallen considerably as reflected by military honors such as the Congressional Medal of Honor. Our model, which seeks to explain heroism in a rational decision-making framework, suggests that an observed decline in heroism can be explained on the basis of optimal individual and social responses, rather than as an arbitrary change in the governmental rewards for heroism.
Book
With the publication of the Parerga and Paralipomena in 1851, there finally came some measure of the fame that Schopenhauer thought was his due. Described by Schopenhauer himself as 'incomparably more popular than everything up till now', the Parerga is a miscellany of essays addressing themes that complement his work The World as Will and Representation, along with more divergent, speculative pieces. It includes his 'Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life', reflections on fate and clairvoyance, trenchant views on the philosophers and universities of his day, and an enlightening survey of the history of philosophy. The present volume offers a new translation, a substantial introduction explaining the context of the essays, and extensive editorial notes on the different published versions of the work. This readable and scholarly edition will be an essential reference for those studying Schopenhauer, the history of philosophy, and nineteenth-century German philosophy.
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This paper argues that institutional conditions in the form of the extent and form of democracy have systematic and sizeable effects on individual well-being, in addition to demographic and economic factors. Using recent interview data from 6,000 residents of Switzerland, we show that individuals are cet. par. happier, the better developed the institutions of direct democracy are in their area of residence. This also applies to a second institution, the degree of government decentralisation (federalism). Finally, we are able to support some of the earlier results for other countries and periods with new data also based on a survey with a large sample size. In particular, we find that the unemployed are to a great extent less happy than employed persons, and that a higher household income level only raises happiness to a small extent
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The main focus of the book is on how to help patients who have taken overdoses or injured themselves. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Are the elderly posing a threat to America's political system with their enormous clout? Are they stretching resources to the breaking point with their growing demands for care? Distinguished economist and legal scholar Richard A. Posner explodes the myth that the United States could be on the brink of gerontological disaster. Aging and Old Age offers fresh insight into a wide range of social and political issues relating to the elderly, such as health care, crime, social security, and discrimination. From the dread of death to the inordinate law-abidingness of the old, from their loquacity to their penny-pinching, Posner paints a surprisingly rich, revealing, and unsentimental portrait of the millions of elderly people in the United States. He explores issues such as age discrimination in employment, creativity and leadership as functions of age, and the changing social status of the elderly. Why are old people, presumably with less to lose, more unwilling to take risks than young people? Why don't the elderly in the United States command the respect and affection they once did and still do in other countries? How does aging affect driving and criminal records? And how does aging relate to creativity across different careers?
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A theory of participation in illegitimate activities is developed and tested against data on variations in index crimes across states in the United States. Theorems and behavioral implications are derived using the state preference approach to behavior under uncertainty. The investigation deals directly with the interaction between offense and defense: crime and collective law enforcement. It indicates the existence of a deterrent effect of law-enforcement activity on all crimes and a strong positive correlation between income inequality and crimes against property. The empirical results also provide some tentative estimates of the effectiveness of law enforcement in reducing crime and the resulting social losses.
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Project staff from the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives (NCIA) gathered information from all jails (county and city) and police department lockups throughout the country regarding the incidence of jail suicides during 1985 and 1986. The study resulted in the identification of 854 jail suicides during 1985-86, with 453 occurring in 1985 and 401 in 1986. Project staff analyzed demographic data on 339 of the 1986 suicides. Subsequent comparison with NCIA's prior national research revealed that, absent minor variations, there were not any appreciable differences in jail suicide characteristics from 1979 and 1986. Most of the key characteristics of jail suicide--offense, intoxication, method/instrument, isolation, and length of incarceration--have remained virtually unchanged over time. The consistency of such findings could impact the ability to deter suicidal behavior. The utilization of these findings in the prevention of jail suicides is discussed.
Article
This study examined the relation between smoking and suicide, controlling for various confounders. More than 50,000 predominantly White, middle-aged and elderly male health professionals were followed up prospectively with biennial questionnaires from 1986 through 1994. The primary end point was suicide. Characteristics controlled for included age, marital status, body mass index, physical activity, alcohol intake, coffee consumption, and history of cancer. Eighty-two members of the cohort committed suicide during the 8-year follow-up period. In age-adjusted analyses with never smokers as the comparison group, the relative risk of suicide was 1.4 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.8, 2.3) among former smokers, 2.6 (95% CI = 0.9, 7.5) for light smokers (< 15 cigarettes/day), and 4.5 (95% CI = 2.3, 8.8) among heavier smokers. After adjustment for potential confounders, the relative risks were 1.4 (95% CI = 0.9, 2.4), 2.5 (95% CI = 0.9, 7.3), and 4.3 (95% CI = 2.2, 8.5), respectively. We found a positive, dose-related association between smoking and suicide among White men. Although inference about causality is not justified, our findings indicate that the smoking-suicide connection is not entirely due to the greater tendency among smokers to be unmarried, to be sedentary, to drink heavily, or to develop cancers.
Article
A vast and often confusing economics literature relates competition to investment in innovation. Following Joseph Schumpeter, one view is that monopoly and large scale promote investment in research and development by allowing a firm to capture a larger fraction of its benefits and by providing a more stable platform for a firm to invest in R&D. Others argue that competition promotes innovation by increasing the cost to a firm that fails to innovate. This lecture surveys the literature at a level that is appropriate for an advanced undergraduate or graduate class and attempts to identify primary determinants of investment in R&D. Key issues are the extent of competition in product markets and in R&D, the degree of protection from imitators, and the dynamics of R&D competition. Competition in the product market using existing technologies increases the incentive to invest in R&D for inventions that are protected from imitators (e.g., by strong patent rights). Competition in R&D can speed the arrival of innovations. Without exclusive rights to an innovation, competition in the product market can reduce incentives to invest in R&D by reducing each innovator's payoff. There are many complications. Under some circumstances, a firm with market power has an incentive and ability to preempt rivals, and the dynamics of innovation competition can make it unprofitable for others to catch up to a firm that is ahead in an innovation race.
Article
Corruption in the public sector erodes tax compliance and leads to higher tax evasion. Moreover, corrupt public officials abuse their public power to extort bribes from the private agents. In both types of interaction with the public sector, the private agents are bound to face uncertainty with respect to their disposable incomes. To analyse effects of this uncertainty, a stochastic dynamic growth model with the public sector is examined. It is shown that deterministic excessive red tape and corruption deteriorate the growth potential through income redistribution and public sector inefficiencies. Most importantly, it is demonstrated that the increase in corruption via higher uncertainty exerts adverse effects on capital accumulation, thus leading to lower growth rates.
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Suicide attempts that have non-trivial chances of both success and failure are relatively common but difficult to rationalize in a decision–theoretic model. This paper views such a suicide attempt as an attempt to signal credibly and thereby influence the actions of another decision-maker in a game-theoretic model.
Article
The standard of living in the industrialized nations has been steadily increasing over the last few decades. Yet some observers wonder whether we are really getting any happier. This paper addresses that question by examining well-being data on 100,000 randomly sampled Americans and Britons from the early 1970s to the late 1990s. Reported levels of happiness have declined over the period in the United States. Life satisfaction has been approximately flat through time in Great Britain. Counter to the general US trend, the happiness of blacks in that nation has risen. The black-white happiness differential has diminished. The happiness of American men has grown. Despite legislation on gender discrimination, the well-being of women has fallen. Wellbeing equations have a stable structure: the British equations are almost identical to the US ones. Money does buy happiness. People care also about relative income. The paper calculates the dollar values of events like unemployment and divorce. They are large. A lasting marriage (compared to widow-hood as a `natural' experiment), for example, is calculated to be worth $100,000 a year. 1 Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA David G. Blanchflower and Andrew J. Oswald "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." U.S. Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. 1.
  • Gary S Becker
Becker, Gary S. 1992. Habits, Addictions, and Traditions. Kyklos, Vol. 45 (3): 327-45.
  • J A Davis
  • T W Smith
Davis, J. A. and T. W. Smith. 2003. General Social Surveys, 1972-2002, Machinereadable data file, Chicago: National Opinion Research Center (producer), Storrs, CT: The Roper Center for 23 Public Opinion Research (distributor).
Essays on suicide and the immortality of the soul / David Hume
  • David Hume
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