Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The middle class is dying (literally)

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows an alarming increase in the rate of death of US Whites (USW, in the Prospect chart below) that runs counter to trends not only in other countries but even in other racial groups (USH = American Hispanics).

What's happening?

Turns out the increased mortality is almost exclusively amongst those with high-school diploma or less, and linked to suicide, drug overdose, mental health issues, and other stress-associated disorders.

Rather than being a sign of too much welfare, it's more a sign of people falling out of the social contract, leading to destitution and despair.

The American Prospect:
The declining health of middle-aged white Americans may also shed light on the intensity of the political reaction taking place on the right today. The role of suicide, drugs, and alcohol in the white midlife mortality reversal is a signal of heightened desperation among a population in measurable decline. We are not talking merely about “status anxiety” due to rising immigrant populations and changing racial and gender relations. Nor are we talking only about stagnation in wages as if the problem were merely one of take-home pay. The phenomenon Case and Deaton have identified suggests a dire collapse of hope, and that same collapse may be propelling support for more radical political change. Much of that support is now going to Republican candidates, notably Donald Trump. Whether Democrats can compete effectively for that support on the basis of substantive economic and social policies will crucially affect the country’s political future.

Case & Deaton, “Rising Morbidity and Mortality in Midlife among White Non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st Century,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, November 2, 2015.
The White Midlife Mortality Reversal: All-cause mortality, ages 45–54 for U.S. white non-Hispanics (USW), US Hispanics (USH), and six comparison countries: France (FRA), Germany (GER), the United Kingdom (UK), Canada (CAN), Australia (AUS), and Sweden (SWE). 

1 comment:

JCF said...

"Much of that support is now going to Republican candidates, notably Donald Trump. Whether Democrats can compete effectively for that support"

Compete for the support of high school (mis)educated, middle-aged whites? Probably not. Sadly, that demographic has never been very good at knowing what was good for them (chiefly because too often it started w/ sectarian social issues---God, Guns, Gays & Abortion---and ended, economically, if they thought that "They" {cough} non-whites {cough} were going to benefit).

You could say, "There But for the Grace of Higher Education Go I"---if I even differ, significantly, there! I am not w/o compassion for those I so resemble. But the BEST thing that may happen for this demographic, is for them to be out-voted by the emerging demographics [we see the alternative in an Off-Off-Year election like tonight, and it's not pretty]. The rising tide of the emerging non-white/99%/"let's effing DO Something about Income Equality!" electorate may be the one to lift ALL the boats, inc. despairing sagging-class middle-aged whites.

I just hope they're there (physically---and cognitively!) to see it.