[...] The mortality rate for whites 45 to 54 years old with no more than a high school education increased by 134 deaths per 100,000 people from 1999 to 2014.
“It is difficult to find modern settings with survival losses of this magnitude,” wrote two Dartmouth economists, Ellen Meara and Jonathan S. Skinner, in a commentary to the Deaton-Case analysis to be published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Wow,” said Samuel Preston, a professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert on mortality trends and the health of populations, who was not involved in the research. “This is a vivid indication that something is awry in these American households.”
Dr. Deaton had but one parallel. “Only H.I.V./AIDS in contemporary times has done anything like this,” he said.
In contrast, the death rate for middle-aged blacks and Hispanics continued to decline during the same period, as did death rates for younger and older people of all races and ethnic groups.
Middle-aged blacks still have a higher mortality rate than whites — 581 per 100,000, compared with 415 for whites — but the gap is closing, and the rate for middle-aged Hispanics is far lower than for middle-aged whites at 262 per 100,000.
David M. Cutler, a Harvard health care economist, said that although it was known that people were dying from causes like opioid addiction, the thought was that those deaths were just blips in the health care statistics and that over all everyone’s health was improving. The new paper, he said, “shows those blips are more like incoming missiles.”
Dr. Deaton and Dr. Case (who are husband and wife) say they stumbled on their finding by accident, looking at a variety of national data sets on mortality rates and federal surveys that asked people about their levels of pain, disability and general ill health.
Dr. Deaton was looking at statistics on suicide and happiness, skeptical about whether states with a high happiness level have a low suicide rate. (They do not, he discovered; in fact, the opposite is true.) Dr. Case was interested in poor health, including chronic pain because she has suffered for 12 years from disabling and untreatable lower back pain.
Dr. Deaton noticed in national data sets that middle-aged whites were committing suicide at an unprecedented rate and that the all-cause mortality in this group was rising. But suicides alone, he and Dr. Case realized, were not enough to push up overall death rates, so they began looking at other causes of death. That led them to the discovery that deaths from drug and alcohol poisoning also increased in this group.
They concluded that taken together, suicides, drugs and alcohol explained the overall increase in deaths. The effect was largely confined to people with a high school education or less. In that group, death rates rose by 22 percent while they actually fell for those with a college education.
It is not clear why only middle-aged whites had such a rise in their mortality rates. Dr. Meara and Dr. Skinner, in their commentary, considered a variety of explanations — including a pronounced racial difference in the prescription of opioid drugs and their misuse, and a more pessimistic outlook among whites about their financial futures — but say they cannot fully account for the effect. [...]
Read the whole thing for more details, embedded links and more.
I think key to this is the fact that it's affecting whites with only a high school education or less. The job market is particularly tough for them, and their coping skills are likely less resilient. They are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. The article goes on to talk about physical pain issues rising in this demographic, also. The combined health and financial problems, with a pessimistic attitude and substance abuse issues, may be proving lethal.
Of course there are those who are quick to say it's merely the Death of White Privledge; Whitey is finding out what it's like to be poor, and can't cope. That authors' agenda isn't mine, I prefer a bit more scientific objectivity. I include the link merely because it's a narrative we are going to hear more and more, as everything continues to get more and more racialized and radicalized.
I think the article about Dr. Deaton and Dr. Case that I've excerpted from here is more objective, and therefor more balanced.
Here is a link to readers comments about the study:
Readers React to Rising Death Rates of Middle-Aged White Americans.
Since the same demographic in other industrialized countries is NOT dying at such an increased rate, I would suggest that the difference is, that many other countries have a permanent unemployed class, that receives better, permanent unemployment benefits and health care. The same demographic here does not, which explains why they gravitate to Bernie Sanders: They want the government to take care of them, European style. Is that the same as the "End of White Privledge"? You decide.
This will be a growing issue as the automation of job tasks continues and jobs continue to disappear. What is to be done with the growing pool of unemployed people, not just here, but globally? It's one of the major challenges we face in the coming Brave New Word.