"This is no longer limited to middle-aged whites."
November 27, 2019 8:12 AM   Subscribe

It’s Not Just Poor White People Driving a Decline in Life Expectancy: A new study shows that death rates increased for middle-aged people of all racial and ethnic groups. (SLNYT)
posted by crazy with stars (13 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
The JAMA report linked from the article has some pretty strong stuff in it. Definitely worth a read.
posted by gimonca at 9:09 AM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Death rates are actually improving among children and older Americans, Dr. Woolf noted, perhaps because they may have more reliable health care — Medicaid for many children and Medicare for older people.

I mean -- the answer is right here. And a huge portion of our country will still wonder why this is happening. "So unique to us! American Exceptionalism! If only we had a way to fix this!"
posted by knownassociate at 9:13 AM on November 27, 2019 [60 favorites]

The geographical concentration is interesting:

Dr. Woolf said one of the findings showed that the excess deaths were highly concentrated geographically, with fully a third of them in just four states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Indiana.

Elsewhere it says that coastal metro areas are performing more like Canada.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:32 AM on November 27, 2019 [9 favorites]

When I saw this the other day, all I could think of was the line from Pulp's "Glory Days":

Well, we were brought up on the space race
Now they expect you to clean toilets.
When you've seen how big the world is,
How can you make do with this?

Despair may not be the smoking gun, but I can't help believe that it's responsible for a lot of the shots fired. I know that I'm certainly not living anything even close to the life that was promised to Gen X, and few of my friends are either.
posted by mattwan at 10:22 AM on November 27, 2019 [28 favorites]

a big reason stated that i read yesterday was overdose, suicide, alcohol related illness, and obesity. the link to all those, i believe, is unhappiness. BIG unhappiness. if we could work toward fixing the things that drive people to overeat, drink too much, drug too much, and kill themselves, that would be great. all the -isms of today's life (especially i think capitalism) are at the heart. i dunno. maybe. it makes sense to me though.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 10:32 AM on November 27, 2019 [19 favorites]

I can't help but think this story is related. Exhibit A is this self-destructive burn-it-all-down view of government (and the highly divisive community politics we've all come to know and love), and Exhibit B is the series of photos of community members, every one of which depicts people living with sub-optimal health. I don't want to get into a discussion about fat-shaming but when everyone in the community is overweight or obese you've got a brewing public health crisis on your hands.
posted by simra at 10:42 AM on November 27, 2019 [6 favorites]

I am hoping the JAMA report digs more into the ages where the effect is largest. I see the age range of 25-64 and I really want to see smaller age buckets because that's such a huge swath of people and someone born in 1953 is probably going to have a different reason to die early than someone born in 1992.
posted by Nec_variat_lux_fracta_colorem at 12:08 PM on November 27, 2019 [7 favorites]

Not if they're both diabetic or need basically any kind of medical care.
posted by bleep at 1:54 PM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

"I know that I'm certainly not living anything even close to the life that was promised to Gen X, and few of my friends are either."

Ain't that the truth. All my life, I've pondered this vast disconnect -- I was brought up dirt poor, left home at age 17 with no financial help from parents, but did manage to complete college -- but the day that I graduated, I was still washing dishes at an Outback Steakhouse to pay my rent. Even so, while I was within the college bubble, there was this expectation that we were all going to end up rich, successful, living in LA or New York, making six figures a year, homes and kids. The only way NOT to achieve that was by becoming a drug addict or making some other tragic mistake.

This was around 1998. Francis Fukuyama wrote about the end of history, and it did seem that struggle in America was a thing of the past.

Good lord, we were wrong.

My life is not bad, but it's not what I expected by a long shot.
posted by Chronorin at 7:33 PM on November 27, 2019 [12 favorites]

“Something changed in the 1980s, ...”

[cough] 12 years of Republican trickle down economics [/cough]
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:43 PM on November 27, 2019 [10 favorites]

Evidently, hope doesn't die last.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 6:11 AM on November 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

@Chronorin, are you me? That's almost exactly my story, subbing Red Lobster for Outback.
posted by mattwan at 6:30 AM on November 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

The US Healthcare system is terrible, desperately needs reform. This is obvious when you compare population statistics to other OECD countries. Given cross country comparison, does it matter if the actual number in the US declines or not, or is just flat or growing less quickly than it should?

Does anyone have the link to the actual paper? Because I am very suspicious of the bucket 25-64 years. The demographics of people in that age range isn't constant - imagine you had a disproportionate number of those people in their late 20s and then that demographic bulge aged into their early 60s. Even if the mortality of people at any given age remained constant, there would be an increase in deaths.

And before you think that surely the researchers would have thought of that and corrected for it, the famous Case and Deaton paper that the headline references didn't, and most of the effect went away once you did (all of it for white middle-aged men, contrary to editorials).
posted by Ktm1 at 6:41 PM on November 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

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