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Welcome To The Third World, Part 23: Whites Are Dying “Deaths Of Despair”

“White privilege” is such a commonly accepted pillar of American society that it’s become material for comics. As Chris Rock tells his audience in the following clip, “There ain’t a white man in this room who would change places with me. And I’m rich!”

But what if that turned out not to be true? What if the collapse of the middle class brought on by the past four decades’ debt binge is hitting the “used to haves” harder than the “never hads”?

That’s what the life expectancy numbers seem to indicate. Check out the charts that appeared in today’s Wall Street Journal:

Death Rates Rise for Wide Swath of White Adults, Study Finds

Increases in ‘deaths of despair’—from drugs, alcohol-related liver diseases and suicide.

In 2015, two Princeton University economists published a landmark paper showing that mortality was rising for white middle-aged Americans after decades of decline, a startling development for an economically advanced nation. Now a new analysis from the same pair, released Thursday by the Brookings Institution, paints an even bleaker picture of the nation’s largest-population group.

Mortality has been rising since the turn of this century for an even broader swath of white adults, starting at age 25, the researchers found, driven by troubles in a hard-hit working class. Death rates for white non-Hispanics with a high-school education or less now exceed those of blacks overall, the pair said—and they’re 30% higher for whites age 50 to 54 than for blacks overall of that age.

A Rising Toll

New research shows the increasing mortality rate among white Americans spans age groups and is most acute among the less-educated.

White deaths are rising…

Mortality rate by race, ages 50-54

…among all age groups of less-educated whites…

Mortality rate for whites with high school education or less, by age

…in contrast to elsewhere…

Mortality rate for all causes, ages 45-54

…due in part to increases in ‘deaths of despair.’

Mortality rate due to alcohol, drugs and suicide, ages 50-54

Mortality rate=deaths per 100,000

Blacks have long had a much higher death rate than whites, but that rate has dropped steeply since the beginning of this century, while the rate for whites has crept up.

Driving the uptick are increases in “deaths of despair”—from drugs, alcohol-related liver diseases and suicide, as well as a slowdown in progress against death in middle age from heart disease and cancer, the nation’s biggest killers, wrote Anne Case and Nobel Prize-winning economist Angus Deaton, her husband. The pair examined more than 15 data sets, including government health statistics, death certificates and various economic indicators.

The analysis paints a portrait of a gradual “collapse of the white, high-school-educated working class after its heyday in the early 1970s,” whose health, mental well-being, and attachment to the labor force have become successively worse for people born after 1945, they said.

The opioid epidemic has only heightened a trend that was already under way before those drugs hit the market, they said.

By contrast, Ms. Case and Mr. Deaton noted, the mortality rate has continued to decline this century for whites with a college degree, albeit more slowly than before.

“This doesn’t seem to be about current income,” Ms. Case said in a call with reporters. “It seems to be about accumulating despair.”

The rising mortality of working-class white adults appears to be rooted both in worse job opportunities and increasing social dysfunction, following generations of relatively stable lives that involved job advancement and an expectation of living better than one’s parents, the researchers said.

Wages aren’t rising with age now as much as they once did for high-school-educated white men, Ms. Case said, suggesting that the composition of jobs available to them has changed and that there is less upward mobility. “The company man job has gone away for working-class people,” Mr. Deaton said.

Those changes have come along with trends such as a decline in marriage, more temporary relationships and children out of wedlock, and a rise in social isolation that have made life less stable, they said. Taken together, these changes in life may be leading to physical and mental-health problems, they said, calling their hypothesis “preliminary but plausible” with more research needed on several fronts.

The work deepens a growing body of academic and government research into the possible causes of rising mortality rates among whites, whose ills among the working class are reshaping the nation’s social, political and economic landscape. Non-Hispanic whites make up 62% of the U.S. population, and their rising mortality rates helped to push overall U.S. life expectancy down slightly in 2015, to 78.8 years.

“For many Americans, America is starting to fail as a country,” said James Smith, chair in labor markets and demographic research at the Rand Corp., who wasn’t involved in the paper and said he was struck that mortality rates are rising for young working-class adults. “The bad things that are going on in America do not appear to be going on in Western European countries, and that’s a big deal.”

The phenomenon is occurring all across the country, both in urban and rural areas, Ms. Case and Mr. Deaton wrote. And the ills are so deep and complex that it could take many years and many changes in policy to reverse.

“As these people move into old age, they’re going to be sick, and that has disastrous consequences for Medicare and Social Security policy,” Mr. Deaton said.

Perhaps “former privilege” is more spiritually destabilizing than “no privilege ever.” In any event, it’s not getting better. Debt — the main culprit in this story — continues to accumulate everywhere, while automation increasingly claims jobs that used to pave the way to the middle class.

And this is before the next financial crisis decimates huge swaths of auto manufacturing, home building and retailing. Millions of Americans will experience that Hemingway quote — “He went bankrupt slowly at first, then all at once” — first-hand.

Read the other articles in this series here.

24 thoughts on "Welcome To The Third World, Part 23: Whites Are Dying “Deaths Of Despair”"

  1. Healthcare, thats the real issue. Those countries have healthcare. White people voting against HC areto blame for their own demiss. Also their idolizing of companies that make huge profits at the expense of hurting the masses. We are doing this to ourselves.

    1. America had health care – the best in the world – until the parasites called government took over. Companies that make huge profits are those that best serve the interests of their customers. We are not doing this to ourselves. The coercive parasites are doing it to us. I’m betting you want more of the same.

  2. Most of us white folks turned the privilege switch off quite some time ago when we realized that the lesser brethren were on to our shenanigans.

    Can you imagine the shock of them if we all simultaneously turned the switch back on? The privilege overload would shut them up for good and put us back into our rightful seats of overlordship..

    What say you?

    On the count of three.

    One… Two…

  3. Policy changes & government regulations & interventions will not stop America’s decline. We the American citizens need to remember what the duties of a responsible citizen of a democracy are & they will require us to get involved in all kinds of public & private groups to rebuild our communities & our community connections from the ground up. Its time to quit hoping the government, the schools & the police will make our communities better places to live & we roll up our sleeves, reach out to our neighbors & take back our communities from the despair that grips so many across all economic, political, racial, ethnic, religious & any other lines we have drawn between ourselves & our fellow Americans.

    1. Try rolling up your sleeves and watch how fast the police reach for their guns. You will not be allowed to “take back” what they now own. People need to realize that this decline is not the result of apathy or laziness. It results from a century long program of legally disarming everyone and empowering the rulers. They like it this way and will fight to keep it this way. “We” did not do this to ourselves. They did it to us. They will continue doing it until a voting majority realizes that government is not a good idea done poorly, but rather a bad idea being done very effectively, and that government is a progressive disease. It only ever grows worse over time.

  4. There is a moral crisis in US, first and foremost. When more than half the children are raised by single moms you are bound to have major problems. The economic and political crisis is just the byproduct and manifestation of the moral crisis. It is a reflection of the moral decay in this country.

    1. The problem is the moral code of faith and self-sacrifice. Self-interested skeptics are difficult to rule.

  5. I don’t dispute your larger point about the increase in the “deaths of despair,” which I suspect is valid. But I do have questions about the way the data is displayed. Whites with high school education or less are compared to all blacks. I’d like to see whites compared to blacks at the same educational level. Are poorly educated whites doing worse than comparably poorly educated blacks, or is their health merely deteriorating to the same unfortunate level? The question goes to the heart of whether such a thing as “white privilege” exists.

      1. But still probably the largest or one of the largest minority voting blocks in a country with no majority. So I wouldn’t bet on the world changing or anything.

      2. That would only be true if it were always true that every time you projected what is going on now into the future, that would be what happens. but if that were really true, projecting 1500 A.D. North America, you would assume that there would be 300 million Native Indians.

        Didn’t happen.

  6. Whites are allowing themselves to be breed out of existence. They listens to the liberals who told them to stop having children. The rest of the worlds population hasn’t stopped.

    1. Feminism will die out with the whites.

      No where else in the world do they embrace this cultural suicide like we do.

      1. This propaganda has been going on since the 60s but is now reaching its end goal. The worst part is that if you want to make whites disappear you don’t just convince them to have less kids but to have kids with other minorities. It’s truly horrible, the US has another good 10 years before things start getting unbearably bad as it reaches 3rd world status as the new majority will be peoples from the third world.

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