Posts Tagged ‘Causes of Death’

The spread of deaths of despair in the USA

June 12, 2017

Americans in the prime years of life—aged 25 to 44—are dying at an increasing rate, and the increase is mainly due to “deaths of despair”—drug overdoses and alcohol-related disease.

I recently wrote a post about the Case-Deaton study, which shows a rise in “deaths of despair” among white Americans, especially those age 45 to 54, since 1999.

Now reporters for the Washington Post have done their own study which shows a rise in the death rate since 2010 among Americans of all races in the prime of life—age 25 to 44.

As in the Case-Deaton study, the increase is due to “deaths of despair”—drug overdoses and alcohol-related diseases.

Since 2010, death rates have risen

  • 16 percent for young white American adults.
  • 18 percent for young native American adults
  • 7 percent for young Hispanic American adults
  • 4 percent for young African-American adults
  • 3 percent for young Asian American adults.

Why is this happening?

The majority of Americans are doing badly economically.  Wages are stagnant.  Good jobs are scarce.  Many have educational, medical or other debts they never will be able to pay.

Except for the professional classes and the ultra-rich, few expect to do better economically than their parents, and few expect their children to do better than themselves.

In the past generation, some of us have been sold in the idea that medications, such as Prozac, are the solution to our psychological and personal problems.   A journalist named Robert Whitaker did a good job of documenting this in his book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, and his book and website, Mad in America.

This new respectable drug culture made it easy for Purdue Pharmaceuticals to market Oxycontin, an addictive pain killing prescription drug, and widespread use of Oxycontin made it easy for illegal drug traffickers to sell heroin as a cheap substitute.  For some, drugs provided an easier escape from dead-end lives than individual initiative or political struggle.

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Terrorism in perspective: some numbers

December 3, 2015
original

Double click to enlarge.

Terrorism is an outrage, but it isn’t a worse individual danger for Europeans or Americans than many other things.  Above all, it is not a reason to surrender to fear, or to let our fear override our judgment or our principles.

o-TERRORISM-570-1

Notice that the two countries which have suffered the most from terrorism are Iraq and Afghanistan, which the United States invaded supposedly to fight terror.

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History’s death tolls: a comparison chart

April 15, 2014

Here’s an interesting set of charts from the Wait But Why blog giving the sizes of the death tolls in history’s greatest massacres and from other causes of untimely death.  As W. Edwards Deming once said, no number is meaningful unless there is another number to compare it with.

Death Final1a
As somebody else once said, one of the hardest things for human beings to grasp is differences in orders of magnitude (units vs. thousands vs millions).
DEATH2
Notice the enormous range of estimates in the larger figures. It seems as if the greater the death toll, the harder it is to determine just how great it was. But we shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking that massacres that are lesser in numbers are not really atrocities.

DEATH3

http://waitbutwhy.com/2013/08/the-death-toll-comparison-breakdown.html

http://waitbutwhy.com/

Hat tip to Yves Smith (whose naked capitalism web log is listed on my Blogs I Like page)