The Role of Knowledge Accumulation in Health and Longevity: The Puzzling Case of Suicide

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Williams, Ruth F. G and Doessel, Darrel P (2007) The Role of Knowledge Accumulation in Health and Longevity: The Puzzling Case of Suicide. Prometheus , 25 (3). pp. 283-303. ISSN 0810-9028


Many Western countries have experienced the ‘rectangularisation of the [demographic] survival curve’, leading to a rise in life expectancy. This process is the result of falling death rates, which leads to increasing longevity. In this article, suicide is placed within the general perspective of declining All Causes mortality. It is shown that suicide is atypical when compared with other causes of death. Which ever way it is measured, whether by an unweighted headcount measure or a weighted Potential Years of Life Lost measure, the suicide rate is not subject to secular decline. In fact, it has become (numerically) a relatively more important cause of death. This article puts some emphasis on the arguments by Joel Mokyr, an economic historian, about the importance of knowledge accumulation. It is argued that, in the case of suicide, there is a deficiency in knowledge of the causes of suicide and the prevention of suicide.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1080/08109020701531403
Official URL
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Economics and Finance
Historical > FOR Classification > 1402 Applied Economics
Historical > FOR Classification > 1701 Psychology
Historical > SEO Classification > 9205 Specific Population Health (excl. Indigenous Health)
Keywords ResPubID12930, Australia, knowledge, longevity, mortality, suicide
Citations in Scopus 6 - View on Scopus
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