Relative Status and Well-Being: Evidence from U.S. Suicide Deaths

2012-16 | September 1, 2012

We assess the importance of interpersonal income comparisons using data on suicide deaths. We examine whether suicide risk is related to others’ income, holding own income and other individual and environmental factors fixed. We estimate models of the suicide hazard using two independent data sets: (1) the National Longitudinal Mortality Study and (2) the National Center for Health Statistics’ Multiple Cause of Death Files combined with the 5 percent Public Use Micro Sample of the 1990 decennial census. Results from both data sources show that, controlling for own income and individual characteristics, individual suicide risk rises with others’ income.

About the Authors
Mary C. Daly is president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Learn more about Mary C. Daly
Philip B. Johnson is senior vice president of the Operations and Safety Group at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, responsible for the District’s Police Services, Cash Services, Facilities Management, and Workplace Services functions. Phil is the Executive Sponsor for the Bank’s business continuity events. Phil serves on the Bank’s Executive Leadership Team and […] Learn more about Philip B. Johnson
Daniel Wilson is a vice president in the Economic Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Learn more about Daniel Wilson