Minimum wage legislation could reduce suicide in Asia, study finds

china factory
Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

Suicide is a leading cause of death worldwide, particularly among young people. Risk factors for suicide encompass a wide range of elements including structural issues that cause disparities in income.

Research shows that increasing social welfare expenditure, for example via a mandatory minimum wage, reduced suicide rates in the United States. However, it is not known to what extent such a policy is relevant globally.

To investigate, CUNY SPH Professor Mary Schooling and colleagues at the University of Hong Kong led a study published in Social Science and Medicine assessing the effect of the introduction of a minimum wage in Hong Kong on suicide rates. Specifically, they compared suicide rates before and after the minimum wage was introduced, allowing for existing trends, economic changes and population structure.

The study found that a minimum wage legislation decreased by 13% in Hong Kong. Six hundred thirty-three suicides were prevented for the period from May 2011 to December 2016, the majority in older working aged men. These results provide new evidence that, similar to findings in Western settings, minimum wages may help to reduce suicide in Asia, particularly for working age men.

"This study shows the importance of structural factors, such as social welfare policies, to suicide prevention in a global context," says Dr. Schooling.

More information: Abigail A. Rath et al, The impact of the minimum wage on suicide rates in Hong Kong, Social Science & Medicine (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2022.115236

Citation: Minimum wage legislation could reduce suicide in Asia, study finds (2022, November 3) retrieved 25 May 2024 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Explore further

$1 increase in minimum wage linked to 3.5-6% fall in suicide rate


Feedback to editors