In rich countries, death rates are supposed to decline. But in the past decade and a half, middle-age white Americans have actually been dying faster. Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton first pointed out this disturbing trend in a 2015 study that highlighted three "diseases of despair": drugs, drinking and suicide.
On Thursday, the pair released a deeper analysis that clears up one of the biggest misconceptions about their earlier research.
The problem of dying whites can't only be blamed on rising rates of drug overdoses, suicides and chronic alcoholism, they say. More and more, middle-aged white Americans are dying for all kinds of reasons — and the underlying issue may have less to do with opioids and more to do with how society has left behind the working class.
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