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Dying to Get Out of Debt: Consumer Insolvency Law and Suicide in Japan

65 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2003  

Mark D. West

University of Michigan Law School

Date Written: December 2003

Abstract

This Article explores the complex relation between consumer insolvency law and suicide in Japan, where bankruptcies and suicides have increased dramatically in recent years. The statistical and interview evidence, some of which relates to the creation of a relatively efficient and socially acceptable insolvency mechanism in 2001, suggests that law is at least indirectly relevant to decisions to take one's own life. Law can bring about debt control and stigma mitigation, each of which can lead to lower levels of stress and depression, each of which can lead to lower suicide rates. Still, responses to the law, even in relatively homogeneous Japan, are varied and ambiguous, and seldom if ever is insolvency law the sole cause of suicide. The causal mechanism behind the law's apparent force appears to be a complex calculus of economic and social factors.

Suggested Citation

West, Mark D., Dying to Get Out of Debt: Consumer Insolvency Law and Suicide in Japan (December 2003). Michigan Law and Economics Research Paper No. 03-015; U of Michigan Law, Public Law Working Paper No. 37. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=479844 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.479844

Mark D. West (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

625 South State Street
Professor of Law
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States
734-647-4041 (Phone)
734-764-8309 (Fax)

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