The long term trend for longevity in the United States had been improving for decades. For most ethnicities and age cadres it still is…
…with one noteworthy exception:
By Tom Maguire, JustOneMinute
Operating Within The Normal Journalistic Range Of Bungle
From the Times, an unexpected new finding by some doctors poring through our nation’s health statistics:
Death Rates Rising for Middle-Aged White Americans, Study Finds
Something startling is happening to middle-aged white Americans. Unlike every other age group, unlike every other racial and ethnic group, unlike their counterparts in other rich countries, death rates in this group have been rising, not falling.
That finding was reported Monday by two Princeton economists, Angus Deaton, who last month won the 2015 Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences, and Anne Case. Analyzing health and mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and from other sources, they concluded that rising annual death rates among this group are being driven not by the big killers like heart disease and diabetes but by an epidemic of suicides and afflictions stemming from substance abuse: alcoholic liver disease and overdoses of heroin and prescription opioids.
The analysis by Dr. Deaton and Dr. Case may offer the most rigorous evidence to date of both the causes and implications of a development that has been puzzling demographers in recent years: the declining health and fortunes of poorly educated American whites. In middle age, they are dying at such a high rate that they are increasing the death rate for the entire group of middle-aged white Americans, Dr. Deaton and Dr. Case found.
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.
I should add, from Table 1 in the study – that death rate fell very slightly for whites with some college but no degree (-3.3) and notably for those with at least a BA (-57).
Whew, I may yet live…
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.
I note with interest that there is no adjustment for economic condition, or change therein…
By demographic group, the high school whites have a mortality rate of 735.8 per 100,000; some college is 287.8; and a BA or higher is 178.1. So working class whites are trailing blacks as a whole, which was not true in 1999 – the high school whites mortality rate rose from about 600 to 736 per 100,000 while the black rate fell from 797 to 592. But although we have some racial statistics, I don’t see any male/female breakdown in the study. Naturally, I am left wondering whether that is because there was no difference in gender trends, or because such a finding might not advance any appropriate narrative [MORE: This study shows that life expectancy dropped even faster for poor white women than poor white men, so the War on Women lives.]. That said, “White Lives Matter (and may be less privileged than you think)” is transgressive enough.
The authors also note the grim prospects for Medicare, since this high-mortality group is part of the baby boom:
A serious concern is that those currently in midlife will age into Medicare in worse health than the currently elderly. This is not automatic; if the epidemic is brought under control, its survivors may have a healthy old age. However, addictions are hard to treat and pain is hard to control, so those currently in midlife may be a “lost generation” (36) whose future is less bright than those who preceded them.
LOTS OF IDEAS: A Princeton prof (and TAP founder) speculates as to the causes and political implications. Lots is good but let me argue with this:
To conservatives, the white midlife mortality reversal in the United States may initially seem to confirm Murray’s argument about moral decay caused by the welfare state. But that interpretation runs into an obvious objection: Similar trends are not evident in the European countries that have even more generous systems of social protection than the United States does.
Well, the obvious objection has its own obvious objection – Europe’s paternalism preceded the US version so they may have succeeded in developing social norms that kept people on the dole out of bars prior to the 1999-2013 time frame studied here.
Remarkable correlation in that the electoral block least likely to support the current mal-administration is taking a mortality hit.
Correlation, we are reminded, does not necessarily imply causation. Some coincidences are purely happy coincidences.