Two researchers at Princeton University published a study last November indicating that the death rate for middle-aged white Americans was on the increase.
Statistical blogger Andrew Gelman analyzed the figures and concluded that the increase is concentrated among white women in the South.
One thing he did was to adjust the figures according to age. Not everybody in an age group, such as 55 to 64, is the same age, and changes in age distribution can skew the figures over time.
The top chart shows the results of Gelman’s adjustment and analysis.
The Princeton study said the main causes for the increased death rate were drug-related (overdoses), alcohol related (liver disease) and suicide—all indicators of despair. An earlier study said higher mortality among white women was correlated with lack of education and heavy smoking.
Why would this affect Southerners, whites or women more than other Americans? I don’t know. I’m pretty sure, however, that southern white women, like other Americans, would be healthier and happier in a high-wage, full-employment economy.
Middle-aged white death trend: It’s all about women in the south by Andrew Gelman for his Statistical Monitoring, Causal Inference and Social Science web log.
Rising morbidity and mortality among white non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century by Anne Case and Angus Deaton for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The original study.
Explaining the Widening Education Gap in Mortality Among U.S. White Women by Jennifer Karas Montez and Anna Zajakova for the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. (2013) An earlier study.
This map of America’s female morality rates is pretty terrifying by Sarah Kliff for the Washington Post (2013).
What’s Killing Poor White Women? by Monica Potts for the American Prospect.
The Lonely Poverty of America’s White Working Class by Victor Tan Chen for The Atlantic.