The mortality rate of the US white population the less educated, aged 45-54 years increased by unprecedented way during the last decade, says a study released on Monday 2nd November by the National Academy of Sciences . The trend is even more dramatic than in the same time the rate continued to decline in Black and Hispanic minorities. Originally the phenomenon: an increase in suicide and diseases linked to drugs and alcohol within the white population. This study is the result of the work of two economists from the University of Princeton (New Jersey): Angus Deaton, who has just received the 2015 award of the Central Bank of Sweden in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel and Anne Case, who is also his wife.
The two academics have arrived at these conclusions by chance while studying the potential correlation between the sense of happiness of a population and suicide rates. In reviewing the statistics of mortality and morbidity, they found that the death rate among the white population did not pursue education beyond high school increased between 1999 and 2013 to 134 deaths for 100,000 individuals. “This change goes against decades of progress in terms of mortality and is unique to the United States: No other rich country has experienced a similar reversal” , say the two researchers. The improvement of the white population mortality rates had known a break in the 1960s including the explosion of tobacco consumption, but “In modern times, only AIDS has caused something similar “ notes M.Deaton.
Although the trend was reversed for the white population, the mortality rate (415 per 100,000) is still lower than that found in the black population (581). However, it is now much higher than that of the Hispanic population (262). For white people who accessed the university, the mortality rate tends to drop and will increase by 22% when studies were not continued beyond high school. The study clearly shows also that this is a generational phenomenon. Thus, the mortality rate among non-Hispanic whites aged 65 to 74 years, he continued to decline by 2% between 1999 and 2013.
A generation marked by economic insecurity
The explanation for this increase in mortality in less educated 45-54 is even more disturbing than the phenomenon itself. The study thus demonstrates that such an increase can not find its origin in a simple increase in the number of heart disease or diabetes-related. It results not only from a surge in suicides, but also the sharp increase in diseases related to drug use and alcohol. This causality reported ethnic origin was a dramatic reversal during the last decade. While in 1999 the death rate from alcohol and drug found in the black population was higher than the rate among whites in 2013 we found exactly the opposite.
The study also shows that, contrary to younger and older, 45-54 is much more frequently complain of pain before. Between 2011 and 2013, third states and suffer from chronic pain, and one in seven is prone to sciatica. Symptoms that follow a curve parallel to the increase in mortality.
At the same time, mental illness and disability pension applications have continued to rise. The explosion of disability pensions, which jumped 30% during the crisis, is one of the factors behind the fall in the participation rate in the labor market, which in the US fell to its lowest level since the 1970s
The economic factor is also very present in the study of Angus Deaton and Anne Case, including the fact that evoke the famous “American dream” is becoming more difficult to achieve for this category of the population. First, they noted that household incomes, where the household head has not pursue education beyond high school, dropped by 19% between 1999 and 2013. “Although the epidemic suicides, overdoses and pain increases began before the financial crisis, it is possible to establish a link with economic insecurity “, the authors argue. “After the slowdown in productivity in the 1970s, and with the widening income inequality, many people in the baby boom generation have been the first to note that, in midlife, life not going to be better than their parents, “ they add.
The study also points to the growing anxiety over the pension level that this population hoped to receive in a few years . “The United States were directed mainly to pension funded systems related to the vagaries of the stock markets, while in Europe, the pension defined benefit plan is still the norm” , indicate authors, who point out that the impact of this “economic insecurity” related to future pension amounts could play a role in this unprecedented increase in death rates.