International Journal of Comparative Sociology 57(4)

Sylwia J Piatkowska, Lawrence E Raffalovich*, and Steven F Messner*


Building upon prior research, this study examines the effects of European Union (EU) accession on suicide rates in the Eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007 using pooled cross-sectional time-series data that cover approximately 20 years (1990–2011). Results from fixed-effects regression analyses indicate that EU entry has no effect on total suicide rates and suicide rates among males, but has a negative effect on female suicide rates in the fully specified models. In addition, we find that EU entry also has a negative effect on the ratio of suicide rates to an aggregated indicator of lethal violence (homicide rates + suicide rates, or the suicide–homicide ratio) for the total population and for the female population. Consistent with previous research, we find some significant negative effects on suicide rates for economic growth and life expectancy at birth, and a positive effect for females. When interpreted with reference to the ‘stream analogy’ for understanding the two major forms of lethal violence (suicide and homicide), our findings suggest that the impact of any increase in the ‘flow’ of lethal violence associated with EU entry is likely to be manifested in an ‘outward’ rather than ‘inward’ direction for the nations in the sample. Our analyses also reaffirm previous research documenting appreciable gender differences in lethal violence.

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* Denotes CSDA Associates, Affiliates, and Staff