Politicians and the politically correct crowd constantly inundate us with propaganda and misinformation about health and longevity. When real data does exist, the government and academic-industrial-medical complex spins it to fit their agenda.
But — as I often point out — they can’t manipulate or misrepresent mortality rates.
Mortality rates are based on simple vital statistics regarding the size and composition of the population and the number of deaths. When it comes to mortality, you can’t fake a death. And you can’t cheat the Grim Reaper.
Otto von Bismarck in Germany and leaders in Great Britain first began keeping vital statistics in the 1880s when they realized these statistics form the basis of economic strength and military might in the era of the “Great Powers.”
In the U.S., the constitution requires the government conduct a census every 10 years to provide the data to maintain a representative democracy with proportionate representation.
Mortality rates take the “lies” and “damned lies” out of statistics
Indeed, keeping vital statistics was a science long before there was such a thing as “biostatistics” or clinical trials, which can (and do) manipulate health outcomes data.
But you don’t need to be a doctor or medical researcher to know about vital statistics. It’s the kind of data an unbiased economist can analyze.
And that’s just what happened when two Princeton economists, Anne Case and Angus Deaton (who just won the Nobel Prize in Economic Science) recently analyzed data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as other sources.
They found a striking anomaly in middle-aged white Americans. Turns out, death rates for this group are rising — not falling.
By stark contrast, every other age group…every other ethnic and racial group…and every other advanced nation worldwide for the last century has been experiencing drops in mortality rates.
To put it more simply, everyone else in the world is living longer — except middle-aged white Americans.
In fact, between 1999 and 2014, the death rates for white Americans ages 45 to 54 years with only high school education increased suddenly by 22 percent to 134 deaths per 100,000 people.
The “other” epidemics killing middle class America
Turns out, their rising death rates have nothing to do with the big killers of older age — such as Type II diabetes and heart disease.
The rising death rates actually stem from an epidemic of alcoholic liver disease, substance abuse, and suicide — including overdoses of both prescription and non-prescription narcotics.
As I observed in my consulting forensic medical practice, medical examiners, insurance companies, and their actuaries don’t distinguish accidents from suicides when it comes to drug overdoses. They only go so far as to determine whether the victim took the drug according to prescription guidelines.
For the families, however, it makes a big difference. If the overdose was intentional, it’s a suicide. If it was unintentional, it was an accident.
But all too often investigators don’t go to the trouble to distinguish the difference. They simply categorize the death as “undetermined,” which leaves the possibility another person caused the overdose (homicide).
Regardless of intent, many prescription drugs are so dangerous, a toxic or lethal dose isn’t much higher than the effective therapeutic dose. This danger certainly holds true for opioid pain-killers. It also holds true for many psychiatric drugs, which some experts now question for their safety and efficacy. Of course, we also face an epidemic of illegal narcotics such as heroin (a synthetic opioid never used as a prescription drug), which added to the mortality rate hike.
Forget Denmark — there’s something rotten right here in the U.S.
This new analysis offers rigorous evidence behind the causes and consequences of the declining health and welfare of the average white American citizen. Many experts once considered this group of Americans the “backbone of the nation.” But today, average white Americans are dying at such a high rate, they are increasing the death rate for the entire group of middle-aged white Americans.
In a commentary to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, two Dartmouth economists wrote, “It is difficult to find modern settings with survival losses of this magnitude.”
A professor of sociology and expert on population mortality and health at my alma mater, University of Pennsylvania, responded, “Wow…this is a vivid indication that something is awry in these American households.”
Meanwhile, the death rates for middle-aged blacks and Hispanics have continued to decline, as did death rates for younger people in all ethnic and racial groups. The death rate for middle-aged Hispanics is now far lower than middle-aged whites, as I reported earlier this year.
The National Academy of Science previously reported the U.S. has fallen behind other advanced countries in longevity. We now know the reason thanks to this new research.
Increasing hopelessness in the era of “hope and change”
Overall, it appears the plight of middle-aged, middle-class white Americans is the last thing on the national radar screen these days. In fact, the researchers (Case and Deaton) say they stumbled upon their findings by accident!
They were looking at a variety of national data on death rates and government surveys asking about pain, disability and general ill health. Deaton was interested in data on suicide and happiness. Specifically, he wanted to know whether states with high reported “happiness” levels have lower suicide rates. (They do not, he discovered. And, in fact, the opposite is true.)
In their original focus on pain, Case and Deaton found middle-aged people reported experiencing more pain in recent years. In fact, one-third of middle-aged Americans reported experiencing chronic joint pain. So that finding could help explain the increased use — and ultimately deadly abuse — of pain-killers.
One could argue the U.S. government stacked the deck against this generation of average middle-class white Americans. Just consider the public school system with declining academic standards (and absent or inverted moral standards). And what about the double standards, employment policies, government assistance, and economic stagnation that hit this generation of Americans?
We never hear about the “rights” of average white Americans. These days, they’re told their lives “don’t matter.” One has to wonder whether early death is part of the “white privilege” we hear so much about lately.
The pattern of alcohol abuse, substance abuse, and suicide adds up to pessimism and feelings of “hopelessness” among middle-aged white Americans — all this in the era of “hope and change.”
- “Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among white
non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (www.pnas.org) 11/2/2015
- “Death Rates Rising for Middle-Aged White Americans, Study Finds,” The New York Times (www.nytimes.com) 11/2/2015