Examining Suicide Rates in Japan and South Korea: An Actuarial Analysis

Elliot Oblander, Wharton, UPenn


Japan and South Korea, despite having some of the longest life expectancies in the world, also have the highest suicide rates. This paper uses actuarial multiple decrement techniques to calculate the amount by which life expectancy in each country is impacted by suicide rates in these countries. This shows that suicides shorten life expectancy at birth by 1.05% in Japan and 0.83% in South Korea. The demographics most critically affected by suicide are Japanese males with a 1.50% reduction in life expectancy at birth, and the South Korean over-65 population with a 0.78% reduction in post-65 life expectancy—an alarmingly high percentage when considering overall heightened mortality rates at that age. These results suggest that high suicide rates, especially in Japan and South Korea, have massive implications for quality of life and economic productivity.


Date Posted: 25 July 2016