Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Does state spending on mental health lower suicide rates?

an article by Justin M. Ross (Indiana University, Bloomington, United States), Pavel A. Yakovlev (A.J. Polumbo School of Business Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, United States) and Fatima Carson (Strategic Development Group, Inc., Bloomington, United States) published in The Journal of Socio-Economics Volume 41 Issue 4 (August 2012)


Using recently released data on public mental health expenditures by U.S. states from 1997 to 2005, this study is the first to examine the effect of state mental health spending on suicide rates.

We find the effect of per capita public mental health expenditures on the suicide rate to be qualitatively small and lacking statistical significance. This finding holds across different estimation techniques, gender, and age groups. The estimates suggest that policies aimed at income growth, divorce prevention or support, and assistance to low income individuals could be more effective at suicide prevention than state mental health expenditures.

Research highlights

▶ The effect of per capita state public mental health expenditures is quantitatively small and is not statistically significant in reducing the incidence of suicide among males and females.
▶ These results do not imply that mental health treatment is ineffective, just that at current levels of public mental health spending, there appears to be little to no marginal effect on suicide rates.
▶ In reducing state suicide rates, state public welfare expenditures have a magnitude comparable to that of public mental health expenditures.
▶ Policies directed towards improving income growth and financial support for low income individuals are more likely to be effective at reducing suicide rates.
▶ Future research should examine effectiveness of state mental health spending on other mental health objectives (e.g. eating disorders, substance abuse, etc).

JEL classification: I12; I18; I31

No comments: