The economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton first published their research on “deaths of despair” five years ago: white working-class Americans in their 40s and 50s were dying of suicide, alcoholism and drug abuse. Dal New York Times.
When the economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton first published their research on “deaths of despair” five years ago, they focused on middle-aged whites. So many white working-class Americans in their 40s and 50s were dying of suicide, alcoholism and drug abuse that the overall mortality rate for the age group was no longer falling – a rare and shocking pattern in a modern society.
But as Case and Deaton continued digging into the data, it became clear that the grim trends didn’t apply only to middle-aged whites. Up and down the age spectrum, deaths of despair have been surging for people without a four-year college degree.
Inequality has risen more in the United States — and middle-class incomes have stagnated more severely — than in France, Germany, Japan or elsewhere. Large corporations have increasedtheir market share, and labor unions have shriveled, leaving workers with little bargaining power. Outsourcing has become the norm, which means that executives often see low-wage workers not as colleagues but as expenses.
And the United States suffers from by far the world’s most expensive health-care system. It acts as a tax on workers and drains resources that could otherwise be spent on schools, day care, roads, public transit and more. Despite its unparalleled spending, the American medical system also fails to keep many people healthy.