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Is assisted suicide a substitute for unassisted suicide?

Girma, Sourafel; Paton, David

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Professor of Industrial Economics


Posner hypothesised that the legalisation of assisted suicide may substitute for unassisted (unregulated) suicide. We test predictions arising from this hypothesis using data from US states that have legalised assisted suicide. Event study regression estimates provide strong evidence that legalisation of assisted suicide is associated with an increase in total suicides, especially for females and older people. There is some evidence that assisted suicide laws are also associated with a smaller increase in unassisted suicide, though the statistical significance is weaker than for total suicides. Results using the synthetic control method (SCM) are generally consistent with the regression estimates. Overall the US experience to date provides little evidence in support of the Posner substitution hypothesis.


Girma, S., & Paton, D. (2022). Is assisted suicide a substitute for unassisted suicide?. European Economic Review, 145, Article 104113.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 27, 2022
Online Publication Date Apr 9, 2022
Publication Date Jun 1, 2022
Deposit Date Apr 1, 2022
Publicly Available Date Apr 10, 2024
Journal European Economic Review
Print ISSN 0014-2921
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 145
Article Number 104113
Keywords Economics and Econometrics; Finance
Public URL
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