Sex‐Role Change, Anomie and Female Suicide: A Test of Alternative Durkheimian Explanations

Roy L. Austin, Marie Bologna, Hiroko Hayama Dodge

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21 Scopus citations


ABSTRACT: Durkheim's influential book, Suicide, provides general (economic) anomie, conjugal anomie, and sex‐role convergence explanations of changes in suicide rates under conditions of social change. We use trend analyses of American suicide rates and female/male suicide ratios from 1950 to 1984 and the regression of the ratios on female educational attainment, white female labor force participation, white fertility rates, and divorce rates to examine these explanations. The general anomie explanation of female suicide trends is supported for the middle‐aged (30 to 54 years) but not for the young (10 to 30 years) or the elderly (55 to 74 years). The conjugal anomie proposition is at best supported for age groups between 15 and 44 when general anomie is not pronounced. The role convergence explanation is rejected for all 13 5‐year‐age‐groups. General anomie may not be a viable explanation of suicide trends for groups actively supporting relevant social changes or not yet tradition‐bound or for groups whose retirement status reduces the importance of some social changes. 1992 The American Association for Suicidology

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-225
Number of pages29
JournalSuicide and Life‐Threatening Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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