Nevin Manimala Statistics

Saving light, losing lives: How daylight saving time impacts deaths from suicide and substance abuse

Health Econ. 2022 Aug 23. doi: 10.1002/hec.4581. Online ahead of print.


This paper estimates the impact of Daylight Saving Time (DST) on deaths from suicide and substance abuse in the United States. Using Multiple Cause-of-Death Mortality Data from the National Vital Statistics System of the National Center for Health Statistics from 1979 to 1988, the effect is identified in two ways: a regression discontinuity design that exploits discrete time changes in the Spring and Fall; and a fixed effects model that uses a policy change and a switching mechanism that introduces random variation to DST’s start and end dates. This is one of the first attempts to estimate the impact of DST on deaths due to suicide and substance abuse and the first to use either identification strategy. The results from both methods suggest that the sleep disruptions during the Spring transition cause the suicide rate to rise by 6.25 percent and the death rate from suicide and substance abuse combined to increase by 6.59 percent directly after the time change. There is no evidence for any change in these outcomes during the Fall transition. The contrasting results from Spring to Fall suggest the entire effect can be attributed to disruptions in sleep patterns rather than changes in ambient light exposure.

PMID:36000150 | DOI:10.1002/hec.4581

By Nevin Manimala

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