Scholarly literature claims that health declines in populations when optimism about investing in the future wanes. This claim leads us to describe collective optimism as a predictor of selection in utero. Based on the literature, we argue that the incidence of suicide gauges collective optimism in a population and therefore willingness to invest in the future. Using monthly data from Sweden for the years 1973-2016, we test the hypothesis that the incidence of suicide among women of child-bearing age correlates inversely with male twin births, an indicator of biological investment in high-risk gestations. We find that, as predicted by our theory, the incidence of suicide at month t varies inversely with the ratio of twin to singleton male births at month t + 3. Our results illustrate the likely sensitivity of selection in utero to change in the social environment and so the potential for viewing collective optimism as a component of public health infrastructure.
- collective optimism
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Obstetrics and Gynecology