American Mortality Rising, How. Why?


The Economist Free exchange comments “Mourning in America”. “Economists grapple with rising American mortality” The Economist January 11th, 2020 pp64


Middle-aged Americans without college degrees are “dying from suicide and drug and alcohol use”. Economist’s can’t identify “simple explanations” but Anne Case and Angus Deaton (Princeton University) point to “fundamental unfairness in the American economy” is contributing to what they dub as “deaths of despair”. Economists suggest that some income inequality may be resulting from expensive employer-provided healthcare insurance. These high and rising costs lower take-home pay and influence corporate executives to reduce expenses by outsourcing low skilled jobs-stripping those workers of benefits, good pay and job security. Being unable to find direct financial drivers explaining rising mortality, economist's realize that factors beyond economics are likely at play including “falling rates-of marriage, -church attendance, -and membership in community organizations”. This idea continues on the theme of “Bowling Alone” (Published 2000). The book's author, Robert Putnam, argued that “America [from the 1950s] was undergoing a long, steady decline in ‘social capital’. He cites bowling as an example of the widespread decline in face-to-face socialization. Bowling is more popular than in the 1950s but the number of bowlers, participating, in leagues has declined.


Below are some figures, taken from other sources, that illustrate the mortality trends.

Figure not discussed in the article. Source CDC.gov

Figure not discussed in the article. Source CDC.gov


Figure not discussed in the article. Deaths for all adult age. Source scorecard.commonwealth.org



Figure not discussed in the article.



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