We’ve written regularly about the how death rates have been rising among some large segments of the US population. One troubling finding was the Case-Deaton study that reported how lifespans have shortened among less educated white Americans aged 45-54. As co-author and Nobel Prize winner Angus Deaton said earlier this year, “Many areas of Appalachia and Mississippi Delta have lower life expectancy than Bangladesh.” The Case-Deaton findings came after a 2015 Urban Institute study that found that death rates had increased among white women generally. A Mother Jones story depicted the problem as poverty-related:
The Urban Institute researchers attribute the rise in US deaths among white women to a number of factors. The largest is the sharp spike in overdose deaths from prescription painkillers like Oxycontin, which jumped from 3.3 to 15.9 deaths per 100,000 between 1999 and 2011—an increase of a factor of five. But even without the spike in drug overdoses, white women’s death rates are rising. As deaths from car accidents, breast cancer, and murder have declined, women have died in higher numbers from more pedestrian health care problems, such as the flu and respiratory infections, as well as chronic illnesses linked to obesity, such as diabetes, kidney disease (a complication of high blood pressure), and heart disease….
The increase in death rates among white woman suggests that the economic factors that have long affected their black counterparts are now hitting white communities hard.