Understanding Unobserved Propensities of Suicide in the United States: A Hierarchial Model with Spatially Correlated Random Effects

47 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2017

See all articles by Jaesang Sung

Jaesang Sung

Georgia State University - Andrew Young School of Policy Studies - Department of Economics

Qihua Qiu

Georgia State University - Department of Economics

William Davis

Georgia State University - Department of Economics

Rusty Tchernis

Georgia State University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: May 2017

Abstract

This paper investigates the underlying causes of suicide. In contrast to previous literature, we use data from the United States at the county level. Our primary methodology is a two-level Bayesian hierarchical model with spatially correlated random effects. Our results show that the significant effects of observable factors on suicides found by earlier research may partially stem from excluding small area effects and time trends. Without controlling for these area and time effects, the true contribution of unobserved propensities and time trends can be hidden within observable factors. Most importantly, we find that a lot can be learned from unobserved yet persistent propensity toward suicide captured by the spatially correlated county specific random effects. We argue that resources should be allocated to counties with high suicide rates, but also counties with low raw suicide rates but high unobserved propensities of suicide.

Keywords: Suicide, Spatial dependence, Hierarchial Bayes Models

JEL Classification: C11, C21, I12, I18

Suggested Citation

Sung, Jaesang and Qiu, Qihua and Davis, William and Tchernis, Rusty, Understanding Unobserved Propensities of Suicide in the United States: A Hierarchial Model with Spatially Correlated Random Effects (May 2017). Andrew Young School of Policy Studies Research Paper Series No. 17-08. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3051701 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3051701

Jaesang Sung

Georgia State University - Andrew Young School of Policy Studies - Department of Economics ( email )

14 Marietta St
Atlanta, GA
United States

Qihua Qiu

Georgia State University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 3992
Atlanta, GA 30302-3992
United States

William Davis

Georgia State University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 3992
Atlanta, GA 30302-3992
United States

Rusty Tchernis (Contact Author)

Georgia State University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 3992
Atlanta, GA 30302-3992
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www2.gsu.edu/~ecort

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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