The use of Poisson regression in the sociological study of suicide

Ferenc Moksony, Rita Hegedűs


This paper explains how Poisson regression can be used in studies in which the dependent variable describes the number of occurrences of some rare event such as suicide. After pointing out why ordinary linear regression is inappropriate for treating dependent variables of this sort, we go on to present the basic Poisson regression model and show how it fits in the broad class of generalized linear models. Then we turn to discussing a major problem of Poisson regression known as overdispersion and suggest possible solutions, including the correction of standard errors and negative binomial regression. The paper ends with a detailed empirical example, drawn from our own research on suicide.


Deviant behavior, Generalized linear models, Poisson regression, Rare events, Research methods, Statistical analysis, Suicide

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ISSN: 2062-087X

DOI: 10.14267/issn.2062-087X