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Research on unemployment and suicide
  1. A J Kposowa
  1. University of California at Riverside, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr A J Kposowa, Department of Sociology, University of California, 1214 Watkins Hall, 900 University Avenue, Riverside, CA 92521, USA; 

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Problems and consequences

Many capitalist economies are characterised by business cycles with concomitant increases in joblessness during recessions and depressions, and reductions in unemployment in periods of economic expansion. In view of the potentially debilitating consequences of joblessness on health and related outcomes, research on unemployment and suicide continues to be relevant in both epidemiology and sociology. One controversy that continues is the issue of selection bias. The essential question that remains unresolved is whether the observed association between unemployment and suicide reported in some studies reflects direct causation or whether there is some variable that is causally prior to both unemployment and suicide.

The report by Blakely et al1 presents an analysis of the New Zealand Census Mortality Study (NZCMS) that attempts to shed some light on the above question. Using logistic regression models on census mortality linked data on 1.65 million men and women aged 18 to 64 years, they have observed that unemployment is strongly associated with suicide among women and men in the age group 25–64. At the same time, no significant associations were observed in other age groups. In an effort to support a causal argument, the authors have controlled …

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