Are temporary economic impacts a relevant political factor that prevents assisted-suicide rights ?

Originally the question was - "Assisted-suicide rights - A little known but huge hurdle ?"

Wondering if possibly a huge hurdle ( apart from the traction-challenged hill arguments ), to politicians moving towards more Assisted-suicide rights, may be -

  • The resulting unemployment of personal-carers
  • Less employment in public and private health-systems
  • Less employment in nursing-homes
  • Less consumers / customers for goods and services, resulting from people receiving assisted-suicide, initially an economic impact.

This economic impact would be temporary as society would adjust.

The aged, ill, handicapped, etc, may be one of the biggest industries.

Could it be that individual political parties in power, would not relish facing that initial / temporary economic impact.

NOTE - Originally, the title of this question was -
"Assisted-suicide rights - A little known but huge hurdle ?" Then it was changed by someone other than me, and for some reasons I originally also thought an alternate title 'may' be useful, but the new title restricts the 'hurdle' to the "personal care industry" and omits the three other main components of the 'hurdle', maybe the new title could have been -
"Are economic impacts a relevant political factor that prevents assisted-suicide rights?" Anyway, I'm not going to edit the title since I'm relying on the assumedly wiser judgment of others here, however, if anyone wants to correct it, that would also be useful.

JUST ADDING - Statistics showing opinions of terminally-ill peoples opinions ( which often don't show much support for adequate rights / access to assisted-suicide ) on whether they should have adequate rights / access to assisted-suicide seems odd since obviously many many of them would be very highly medicated which means many possibly would not be able to feel very strongly about the issue. Also, a lack of adequate rights / access to assisted-suicide could also be a reason why in many countries children have to keep on living with their parents for an unacceptable amount of time, because they cannot acquire independent housing because such a large percentage of housing is occupied by aged people which have no rights / options other than to keep on living to a very physically uncomfortable age, due to modern medicine etc etc, in effect, the very opposite of a healthy and prosperous / future-oriented society.

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    For which country? Any answer would have to refer to policy statements. Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 4:10
  • Europen countries, north america, canada, developed countries, I don't actually know what the requirements are for posting questions here
    – infomtn
    Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 4:16
  • What is the question? Are you asking what is the likely economic impact? Or if the risk of a negative economic impact has been mentioned by people who oppose assisted suicide? Or if care homes have lobbied against assisted suicide out of economic motives? Legalising physician-assisted specifically or other law changes (e.g. reforming murder laws to reduce penalties for "mercy-killings" by relatives)? And certainly, it would help to know geographical restrictions.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Aug 20, 2022 at 12:11
  • Wouldn’t palliative carers have direct personal insight into terminal patients perspectives, biasing their unions to support euthanasia? E.g. this report.
    – benjimin
    Commented Aug 20, 2022 at 22:11
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    In the UK there are huge shortages of nursing home staff, personal carers, NHS staff etc. Wages are low in those sectors. Also the cost of health and social care provision for the elderly (not to mention pensions) is high, so there would probably be an economic benefit from assisted suicide. Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 16:55

2 Answers 2


Don't know if the numbers would be high enough to move the employment needle all that much. For example, Switzerland, one of the earliest adopters, had 750 assisted suicides in 2014 out of 8M inhabitants.

(I'll use A.S. as an abbreviation below)

In fact, reading from the wikipedia link, you could even generate extra employment in the suicide industry:

Euthanasia organisations have been widely used by foreigners, in what critics have termed suicide tourism. As of 2008, 60% of the total number of suicides assisted by the organisation Dignitas had been Germans.

However, looking at Canada's official stats, the numbers are much higher (only residents can apply):

In 2020, there were 7,595 cases of MAID reported in Canada, accounting for 2.5% of all deaths in Canada.

The number of cases of MAID in 2020 represents a growth rate of 34.2% over 2019. All provinces experienced a steady year over year growth during 2020.

When all data sources are considered, the total number of medically assisted deaths reported in Canada since the enactment of federal legislation in mid-2016 is 21,589.

Still not sure that's really that significant on a population of 36M. And a lot of the facilities taking on these clients are probably understaffed anyway, without being able to attract more staff, so again not sure if there'd be a big drop.

The Netherlands have similar, low, but also rising numbers:

Official data show that the number of euthanasia cases has risen more or less continuously since 2006, reaching 6361 in 2019. These cases make up just a small proportion of all deaths, but they have doubled from just under 2% in 2002 to just over 4% in 2019.

Also, you have a coordination/communication problem if that was really the reason: if entity X wants to limit assisted suicide due to lower employment in associated industries, then does it want to go on the record doing so: "Can't have assisted suicide because it would lower employment"??? This is already a contentious issue between the free will/personal choice people vs. the sanctity of life/religious ones. Making it public that one goal is to "support employment" would look very very mercenary. So, assuming a union did want to stop A.S., it would probably argue on any other ground than this and keep their true motivations to themselves.

Here's a snippet from BBC in the context of a shift from opposition to neutrality.:

Of palliative medicine doctors, 80% voted to maintain the college's opposition to assisted dying.

No details given as to the reason.

Another link to the UK, more critical, but again no reason given.

Second, the core justification for the ‘blanket ban’ has deflected attention away from the interests of the medical profession itself, which in the United Kingdom has a long tradition of organized and powerful opposition to assisted suicide.

Here's a pro-A.S. paper, which objects to some physicians' opposition, but does not claim it happens on those grounds.

Or, in India, lots of anti A.S. arguments, none crassly commercial is stated.

Again, another UK position: nothing $$$ oriented.

Finally, that is also not to say health care unions can't have other valid concerns about the responsibilities their members would be expected to take on if A.S. gets adopted. And that might include wishes to be able to opt out individually.

  • To be fair the Swiss requirements to get assisted suicide are pretty onerous. It’s not like a healthy 30 year old can just walk into a clinic and be dead within 15 minutes no questions asked. Commented Aug 20, 2022 at 23:22

There is not clear how much of the financial interest would be present as sources contradict. In USA, for instance, there are claims that one-quarter of spending occurs in the last year of life that would for sure mean there is a huge financial interest. However others dispute that it is less than 5 percent (source), others yet say that ten percent (source).

The problem is, some patients receiving expensive treatment do recover or live longer, not obvious if all just suffering more, so killing all a row would have more consequences than just eliminating the knowingly pointless care (source). This would result a quite cruel society that just kills all weaker members by criteria, same as we discard still possible to repair machines if they are uneconomical to repair.

Maybe it would be more economically efficient but I would not like to live in such a society. Most optimal seems killing all simply when they reach the retirement age. There are some horror fiction stories like this.

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    I am not sure that's what the question is asking about - overall gain, as opposed to specifically less aid/care jobs. Looking at end of life care is however another way to quantify/guesstimate the effect. But, respectfully, the bit about killing everyone to lessen expenses, as you say, is misrepresenting assisted suicide. With suitable filters, it is about letting terminally painful patients end their life on their terms, rather than suffering for other peoples' moral convictions. Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 16:19

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