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Towards a Socio-Economic and Demographic Theory of Elderly Suicide: A Comparison of 49 Countries at Various Stages of Development
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2004 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

D. Cowgill found out that the role and status of the elderly declined with modernisation, but in contradiction G. Hammarström found out that what actually affected the role and status of the elderly during modernisation was the rate at which modernisation occurred. From current studies, it can be insinuated that the transformation from socialist to market economies has too affected the role and status of the elderly adversely. In all, the social condition following on the above changes in productive, organisational and demographic structures connects with what E. Durkheim found to cause imbalance in social integration, and therefore could aggravate elders’ rate of suicide. Using data from 49 developing and developed countries for the period around 1995, elderly suicide rates and elderly/non-elderly suicide ratio are examined in light of the extent and direction of socio-economic development; and in light of the extent of demographic transition and elderly population’s gender structure. Results show that the direction of socio-economic change impacts differentially on elderly suicide rates, the rates in regressing economies being appreciably higher than in progressing economies. However, the impact of socio-economic trends on the elderly/non-elderly suicide ratio was not clear-cut. The extent of socio-economic change impacts differentially on elderly suicide rates, the distribution being curvilinear (inverted-U functional) rather than Cowgill’s linear hypothesis. The extent of socio-economic change also impacts differentially on elderly/non-elderly suicide ratio in an inverse correlation rather than Cowgill’s hypothesised positive correlation. Whereas the results failed to conform to the structuration of Cowgill’s modernisation theory, the theory is deemed substantively relevant especially in explaining the extent to which the status of being elderly aggravates suicide in the context of contemporary developing countries. In this regard, Riley’s concept of age-integration seems more appropriate than Durkheim’s social integration in explaining how older age aggravates suicide in an especial manner. The thesis in this study is that elderly suicide is a function of age-related role and status and regulated by dynamics of socio-economic and demographic structures. Culture too seems to play some role that is yet to be determined.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Sociologiska institutionen , 2004. , 137 p.
Keyword [en]
Sociology, Age-integration, social change and role theories, social integration, socio-economic and demographic developments, suicide.
Keyword [sv]
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-4249ISBN: 91-506-1747-8OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-4249DiVA: diva2:164537
Public defence
2004-05-26, Auditorium Gustavianum, Akademigatan 3, Uppsala, 10:15
Available from: 2004-05-04 Created: 2004-05-04Bibliographically approved

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