Preparing for an Uncertain Economy: How Occupational Expectations, Academic Preparation, and Labor Market Fluctuations Predict Suicide by Midlife

Jamie Carroll , University of Texas at Austin
Alicia Duncombe, University of Texas at Austin
Anna S. Mueller, University of Memphis
Chandra Muller, University of Texas at Austin
John Robert Warren, University of Minnesota

Research finds that fluctuations in the labor market are related to increased suicide rates, but the processes that make individuals vulnerable during labor market shifts are less understood. We take a life course perspective to investigate how occupational expectations and academic preparation in high school are associated with suicide or substance abuse mortality in a cohort of individuals that experienced changes in the occupational demands of the labor market during adulthood. Using the High School and Beyond dataset linked to mortality records in midlife, we find that adolescent men who expected occupations that declined in labor market share during early adulthood are at increased risk of suicide or substance abuse mortality by midlife. These results hold even when considering community labor market factors, educational attainment, family background, and mental health. Our findings have important implications for understanding how education and labor market uncertainty shape deaths of despair.

See extended abstract

 Presented in Session 89. Socioeconomic Status and Health