Culture, Structure, or Both? Explaining Spatial Inequalities of Suicide in Hungary

Lajos Bálint , Hungarian Central Statistical Office (HCSO)
Bozsonyi Karoly, Karoli University Budapest

The spatial distribution of suicide in Hungary cannot be adequately explained by socio-economic inequalities. In the seventies and eighties, Hungary was a world leader in suicide, and by the mid-eighties the rate began to decline dramatically. Despite the significant change in suicide rate, the spatial pattern has hardly changed in the last decades. The persistent stability of the spatial suicide pattern suggests that beyond structural factors, cultural factors may play an important role in this phenomenon. Measuring specific deviance culture or equivalently finding an proxy variable for it is especially difficult in an ethnically and linguistically homogenous society, like the Hungarian. Suicide rate from the early twentieth century may be suitable for capturing these enduring, deep-rooted cultural influences. We investigated the effect of different social variables and historical rate as proxy variable of deviance culture on recent suicide mortality ratio. We have used a wide range of spatial econometric models to describe spatial processes as accurately as possible. We concluded that the proxy variable of culture, besides the endogenous, educational and integrational (divorce) effect, has its own explanatory power in the spatial inequalities of suicide. Because this effect is culturally deep-embedded therefore the success of the intervention is more limited.

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 Presented in Session P2. Poster Session Ageing, Health and Mortality