Life expectancy

Death Rate for Middle Aged U.S. Whites Anomalously Rising

Drugs, suicide, and liver disease responsible for 500,000 extra deaths since 1999.

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In a disturbing new study by Princeton University researchers Anne Case and Angus Deaton finds that the death rates for middle-aged American white people—ages 45 to 54 years—has been rising since 1999. (Deaton is this year's Nobel Economics Laureate.) The rise in white midlife death rates is found entirely among those Americans with a high school degree or less. The 2013 mortality rates for midlife whites with high school degree or less is 736 per 100,000; for those with some college education it is 288 per 100,000; for whites with a B.A. or higher their death rate stands at 178 per 100,000. In other words, whites who have only a high school degree or less are four times more likely to die between ages 45 and 54 than are college-educated whites. For comparison, the overall death rate for midlife Black non-Hispanics and Hispanics is 582 and 270 per 100,000 respectively.

Nearly two-thirds of the increase in the white midlife death rate is the result of drug overdosing. Most of the rest is attributed to increased suicide and chronic liver diseases like alcoholic cirrhosis. The death rate in 2013 for midlife whites with a high school education or less from drug poisoning, suicide, and cirrhosis is 58, 39, and 39 per 100,000 respectively. The comparable rates for college-educated whites are 8, 16, and 7 per 100,000 respectively.

As might be expected, the rising death rate is concomitant with worsening rates of disease and disability among white midlifers.

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As the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences explains the significance of the findings:

Midlife increases in suicides and drug poisonings have been previously noted. However, that these upward trends were persistent and large enough to drive up all-cause midlife mortality has, to our knowledge, been overlooked. If the white mortality rate for ages 45?54 had held at their 1998 value, 96,000 deaths would have been avoided from 1999–2013, 7,000 in 2013 alone. If it had continued to decline at its previous (1979?1998) rate, half a million deaths would have been avoided in the period 1999?2013, comparable to lives lost in the US AIDS epidemic through mid-2015. Concurrent declines in self-reported health, mental health, and ability to work, increased reports of pain, and deteriorating measures of liver function all point to increasing midlife distress.

Despite this setback, U.S. average life expectancy of 78.8 years has continued to rise and has never been higher.

NEXT: The Strange Convergence of Pro-Lifers and Gun Controllers

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  1. Death Rate for Middle Aged U.S. Whites Anomalously Rising
    Drugs, suicide, and liver disease responsible for 500,000 extra deaths since 1999.

    Consider it a coping mechanism for the libertarian moment we’re enjoying.

    1. The fact that people are increasingly dying of self-chosen, self-inflicted excesses rather than being beaten to death by authorities or catching bullets for their country seems to me like a pretty good indicator of a libertarian moment.

      1. You won’t get any disagreement with me. As long as Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and whatever else engagement we get in is fully voluntary, I’m good, I’m good.

  2. What is the ribbon color for this?

  3. Live by White Privilege.
    Die by White Privilege.

  4. So 45-55 year old whites with only a high school diploma or less have been slowly coming to the realization that their lives mean shit and they are self-medicating or just plain ending their useless existence. While those of us who finished college (and more) are still laboring under the delusion that our lives actually mean something.

    Ok, seriously nihilism off. But it does seem as if the basics here are completely being lost by the people who did the study. The rise seems to be almost COMPLETELY attributable to either self-medicating or competely giving up. Don’t get me wrong, I have an MS in mechanical engineering and I love 10 mg of Vicodin on a Saturday night as much as the next guy! But perhaps the qualities that enable those of us to make decisions to get higher education (better decision making skills, the willingness to defer gratification, etc.) is what makes us 4 times less likely to die before we turn 55.

    1. What would you suggest, if you were studying for ME now, would be the best route for breaking into the job market after graduation? I’m asking for a friend.

      1. You can live in a tent in Seattle for free… and even get paid for it!

        1. How can I afford not to live in a tent in Seattle?

      2. I have been in the nuclear power industry for awhile now, so i don’t really have a good handle on the “real” mechanical engineering world right now. Power generation is an area that is always going to be needed and there are almost always jobs out there. However, it isn’t glamorous, and in general you won’t be designing anything ground breaking. But it generally pays pretty well, and has pretty good stability.

        1. Power generation is an area that is always going to be needed

          Slow down, new guy. Maybe you didn’t get the memo, but uhh, according to the U.N. the only way we’re going to save the climate is to return to a hunter-gatherer existence, managed by U.N. employees in air-conditioned government offices.

          1. in air-conditioned government offices.

            REQUIRING POWER.

            Bear 1, Diane 0

            1. One small nuclear plant will cover the U.N. luminaries. That’s a million miles from every poor person in the developing world demanding that kind of comfort.

              1. Or just get a bunch of slaves to turn turbines by hand and call it a jobs program.

        2. That’s all I’m after, really. ME isn’t my first choice, and I’m not sure I even have any particular aptitude for engineering, but it turns out you can’t get paid to stand on the sidewalk antagonizing the neighbor’s dogs, so I had to settle on something else.

      3. Be female, disabled, or non-Asian/Indian ethnic.

        For things you can actually control. Apply everywhere. Be willing to move. You can always move to where you really want to be after you have a couple years of experience under your belt.

        Cest your still in college, get a summer internship or co-op. Preferably at the same place two years in a row. Employers love proof that other employers have already found you not to be a complete waste of space.

        Also, get involved in a non-engineering related club. Well rounded is a big deal in big companies. They like to see you can manage to both get good grades and have a life at the same time. I got my current job partly on having been president of my Humans Vs. Zombies club during college.

        Get proof of your writing skills. Enter essay contests and win them. There is a stereotype in HR that no engineer can write. Having some obvious writing skill wins on your resume can help you get through that first HR hoop.

        Practice getting dressed up and winning people over. Find out what suit styles work best on you. You don’t want to look like an intern when you interview. Practice small talk with strangers. If you can quickly find points of commonality to discuss during an interview, it will increase the odds that the interview will go well.

        That’s all for now. I’ll come back with more later.

        1. “Just pretend the person interviewing you is SugarFree”

        2. Thanks, man. I really do appreciate the advice for, er, my friend. I pissed away my early twenties on fruitless endeavours and piddled through classes for the past three years, and now that I’m preparing to commit to a degree program the prospects are daunting, to say the least. Scaring me shitless, better yet. It’s a colossal investment for someone who has earned under thirty grand a year most of his adult life.

        3. president of my Humans Vs. Zombies club

          What is this I can’t even.

    2. But perhaps the qualities that enable those of us to make decisions to get higher education (better decision making skills, the willingness to defer gratification, etc.) is what makes us 4 times less likely to die before we turn 55.

      I don’t disagree, but I don’t think the rise of victimocracy has helped at all either. Highly publicized non- or irrelevant decisions that don’t do anything but support narrative and miraculously grant ‘marginalized’ people some measure of worth. Decisions of which your average white guy is either unwilling or unable to avail himself.

      1. I don’t disagree, but I don’t think the rise of victimocracy has helped at all either.

        The answer seems clear. All white men should declare themselves white women and add ten years to their life expectancy! Science!

        1. Try this one weird trick to add ten years to your life!

        2. “ll white men should declare themselves white women and add ten years to their life expectancy!

          Um, yeah…. about that?….

          *re: that statistic… i find it funny that when data shows something uncomfortable/unpleasant for a Victim Class, its often suggested that ‘these populations are too small and under-studied to make claims blah blah blah’… but when the same points are used in an argument to justify X range of Special Treatment and policy-importance.. suddenly these data points become super-compelling science which cannot be refuted or else HATERPHOBICTRANSDENIER

          1. That’s ’cause of all the oppressionz theyz gettin’. It’s worse than a slave!

        3. This was the point of your sex change wasn’t it, Princess Dee?

      2. That could very well be why it seems to be isolated to whites.

        Are we supposed to be talking about this?

        1. It’s safe here. Nobody’s paying attention.

      3. Whites, The First Victims of Victimocracy.

    3. “The rise seems to be almost COMPLETELY attributable to either self-medicating or competely giving up.”

      This is an economic issue. Some of it is due to structural unemployment. Our labor participation rate is still way down since before the recession, and those people that fell out of the workforce in 2008 and are still unemployed aren’t coming back. They’re just biding their time until they can get on Social Security.

      We’re talking about baby boomers, here, too. There’s a glut in that age group of people who never caught on to the new economy. As recently as 2000 (when this study range starts), you could get a decent job just because you knew how to use Excel. Nowadays, it’s hard to get a decent job without knowing at least that. And a lot of those older workers…still couldn’t change the time on their VCRs (Video Cassette Recorder).

    4. Having a high school diploma didn’t used to mean you were relegated to substance abuse and giving up–not when the baby boomers graduated from high school. And a ton of those boomers got married straight out of high school with reasonable expectations of staying in the middle class. I think it’s mostly structural unemployment. They’re like the steelworkers that got laid off in the last ’70s and early ’80s. Their expectations outlived their usefulness, and our society isn’t capitalist enough to generate the kind of jobs that would make them prosper.

      We’re squandering a ton of our seed corn financing debt and on social programs–not the kinds of “investment” that generates economic growth. And the people who suffer the worst from that are the people who are least educated and unable to distinguish themselves in the job market.

      1. If you can hang iron or weld, my company will hire you for at least $30 and hour. If you want to learn either of those, hire on as a laborer, prove you can show up for work and pass a piss test over about 4 months (they’ll pay you about $18 for that) and we’ll train you. Fuck, companies are paying $100/day per diem just to get people who can show up on time and work every day. The idea that a high school diploma limits your chances for healthy adult males is a continuing fantasy in the Gulf region.

        1. But how many of those jobs will let me sit around at a desk all day and argue on the Internet?

        2. I worked construction for quite a while myself right out of high school. I was a drywall stocker for a couple of years, among other things.

          I’m talking about people in their 50s+. Those guys couldn’t swing as tapers past 50.

          There are always jobs for smart people who will work hard–in every situation. No doubt about that.

          Structural employment for people over a certain age is another story.

    5. But perhaps the qualities that enable those of us to make decisions to get higher education (better decision making skills, the willingness to defer gratification, etc.) is what makes us 4 times less likely to die before we turn 55.

      It’s correlation not causation. See Reynold’s Law.

  5. This just in: Ron Bailey in favor of white men dying faster.

    1. If it saves just one single climate, any number of dead white men are worth it.

  6. Feminist Dunphy: “We are WINNING!”

  7. It’s the bumper sticker phenomenon. If you’re life is memorialized in a bumper sticker, you probably died of something stupid.

    1. “His name is ‘Jamarkis’, of course his life is hard!”

    2. “I Held His Beer and watched That”?

  8. I think part is the American live-to-work ethos. There are more people taking from the government rather than giving. Someone has to shoulder that burden. It ain’t millenials cuz they ain’t working.

  9. Well, BOO FUCKING HOO, white dudes. I guess you wear yourselves out with all the oppressing you constantly do #KillAllWhiteMenSeriouslyThisTime #ItsNotEvenFunnyHowShittyWhitePeopleAre #UGH #ICantEven

    1. This was cribbed verbatim from The Onion, wasn’t it?

      1. No, but i do think it is fun to search for “White Men” at places like Jezebel and just read the headlines.

        Its like filtering for “Libertarian” @ Salon. the range of… nuance…. is entertaining.

  10. Thanks Obama!

    1. This is wrong and partisan right-wingnuttery obviously we should blame Booosh because war and poison and keystone XL

      1. BLOCK YOMAMMA HATES WHITE PEOPLE!

  11. More for me!

    /me

  12. #WhiteLivesDon’tMatter

  13. My FB are blaming guns.

    Naturally.

    1. FB friends

  14. Isn’t this what leftists call progress?

  15. White Middle-Aged Lives Matter!

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