The increasing role of spatial economic inequalities to explain suicide in France from 1979 to 2016

Elsa Perdrix, Dauphine University
Florian Bonnet, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)

France is one of the European countries with the highest suicide rate. The question of its evolution has been of growing interest since Case and Deaton (2015) show that deaths of despair increase in the USA. In this study, we analyse the suicide rate in France, its recent evolution, and the role of economic development in this evolution. One methodological issue concerns deaths classified as ``unknown cause of death''. This share is growing from a decade and cannot be ignored nowadays. We compute unbiased suicide rates, using Ledermann method – a largely ignored method in the literature – that take advantage of local variation of deaths of unknown cause. We provide them by gender and age groups, at the national level and for the 95 French departments from 1979 onwards. We show that the mortality by suicide decreases since 1985 at the national level for both sexes, in all age groups. However, the relative spatial inequality of mortality by suicide increases since 2000, and overtake the level reached in 1979. Moreover, we show that economic development plays an increasing role in explaining these spatial inequalities, giving rise to fears of Matthew effect.

Keywords: Spatial analysis/regression, Spatial statistics, Mortality, Inequality

See extended abstract.

  Presented in Session P15.