Educated Mortality

November 2, 2015

Dali_paintingAccording to Wikipedia, “middle age” as that ‘…period of age beyond young adulthood but before the onset of old age.’ In birthdays, your 40s, and early 50s, a stretch supposedly where you get a last, great grasp at living before the home stretch.
And in my particular case, that time frame was way-not bad at all. Twenty-plus years later, however, and now in retirement, a different narrative — but still overall not a nightmare in the American Dream.

Yet for a shitload of ‘middle aged‘ Americans, it’s a cemetery plot. In a new study released today, which “stunned” researchers, it seems middle-aged white Americans are dying at an alarming rate, in an alarming way — suicide and drug overdose.
And maybe even worse, foretell a disastrous trend.

(Illustration: Salvador Dali’s ‘Millet’s “Angelus,”‘ found here).

According to the data, the death rate among whites Americans ages 45 to 54 had increased by a half-percent a year from 1999 to 2013, and for middle-aged African-Americans, the score was higher, though, Hispanics fared a little better.
Results of the research apparently highly-noteworthy — from the CDC, the data reveals “…a deeply concerning trend,” which shouldn’t be happening to any level of society.

More from the Guardian this afternoon:

A sharp rise in death rates among white middle-aged Americans has claimed nearly as many lives in the past 15 years as the spread of Aids in the US, researchers have said.
The alarming trend, overlooked until now, has hit less-educated 45- to 54-year-olds the hardest, with no other groups in the US as affected and no similar declines seen in other rich countries.

“This was absolutely a surprise to us. It knocked us off our chairs,” said Anne Case, an economics professor at Princeton University who worked on the study.
Since discovering the trend, Case and her colleague Angus Deaton, also an economics professor at Princeton, have shared the findings with healthcare professionals.
“We wanted to make sure we weren’t missing something,” Case said.
“Everyone’s been stunned.”

Case and Deaton found that death rates from drugs, alcohol and suicides had risen for middle-aged white men and women across all educational backgrounds.
But Case said the less educated bore the brunt of the trend: for those with a high school degree or a lower level of education, deaths from drug overdoses and alcohol poisoning rose fourfold, suicides by 81 percent, and deaths from liver disease and cirrhosis by 50 percent.
For this least-educated group, deaths from all causes rose more than a fifth.
Only for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher did overall death rates continue to decline.

Hard-scrabble life on the lower end…

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