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Rising Mortality of Middle-Aged White Americans
Old 03-31-2017, 12:28 AM   #1
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Rising Mortality of Middle-Aged White Americans

I recall that in a recent thread about longevity, someone mentioned or showed statistics that the death rate was increasing for some groups due to drug abuse or other causes.

Just now, ran across this article that explained in more details. It's the rising death rate of white Americans who are not college-educated. A couple of economists found that they are suffering from "deaths of despair" - suicide and alcohol and drug abuse.

The cause is lack of economic opportunities and poor economic prospects. It sounds bleak. The economists also provided some explanations as to why Europeans did not have the same problem.

"... whites aged 50-54 with a high-school degree or less had been dying at a rate 30 percent lower than that of that of all blacks in the same age group in 1999, but by 2015, their mortality rate was 30 percent higher than that of all blacks in that age group."


See: https://www.theatlantic.com/business...espair/520473/
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Old 03-31-2017, 09:22 AM   #2
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The cause is lack of economic opportunities and poor economic prospects. It sounds bleak. The economists also provided some explanations as to why Europeans did not have the same problem.
More from that link:
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Case and Deaton theorize that this trend is not happening in Europe because of the social safety net there. While middle-aged whites in the United States are left adrift once economic opportunities go away, those in Europe are provided with financial support and health care that make it easier to be satisfied with life, Deaton believes. What’s more, Europeans enter into more stable cohabiting relationships than Americans do, providing a stronger support network than Americans have. This may also be linked to the safety net: Single parents in Britain don’t need to seek additional partners for financial stability because they receive child allowances, for example.
We know that an American solution must be found and not a European style one. The later certainly will not happen in the next 4 years. I guess it would take another Great Depression to move to that solution.

So I'm guessing that the solution in the US is to goose the economy and run very hot for some years. Certainly plays well to the crowds. Think expanding inflation and a rising stock market. Can that be done without causing instabilities that lead from a boom to a bust? We will see.
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Old 03-31-2017, 09:36 AM   #3
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Not trying to do a thread hijack, and if needed this can be moved to another thread... but I think it is part of this...


I came in the middle of the reporting, but on CNN this morning they were talking about refugees who were doing work at many locations that Americans were not doing. One of the biggest reasons was that Americans cannot pass a drug test... they talked to one guy (I think he was a former drug user who now counsels, but could be wrong) who was saying that the immigrants are doing a good job but the Americans just wanted to do enough to get by...

The reporting seems to be saying this is a big issue for manufacturing and even mom and pop stores...

So I can see that people are getting discouraged and taking drugs and alcohol which causes them to die early.... that is destructive behavior...


To Lsbcal thinking that goosing the economy will help... not if the workers cannot even get hired due to drugs etc... to me that is why automation is being pushed as much as it is...
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Old 03-31-2017, 09:45 AM   #4
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Another thought. If you've ever seen Sim City, it's a game that let's you design cities. Well in real life they seem to grow like weeds. America does not seem to do central planning well.

The small California city I grew up in was one of the first to declare bankruptcy after 2008. They had a shipyard that was closed during the Clinton administration. The town never really diversified even though I think it was in a nice geographic spot to prosper. They voted too much public money for services and then could not pay for it. Maybe someday they will turn it around but there are plenty of opportunities for people in other parts of California.

Goosing the economy allows for more mobility for those who just need to pack up and move out of failed old infrastructure. They might have to leave their property but the job at the other end might give them some new opportunities. I'm not saying this is the right approach, but seems to be the current direction. I do not know the right approach.

I do not personally know anyone who is hurting. But I've been pondering the few recent news stories that delve into reasons for some middle class (and former middle class) American's unhappiness. To me it's troubling but that is life I guess.
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Old 03-31-2017, 09:56 AM   #5
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It is a complicated problem with economic and psychological factors.
- There are many people wired fundamentally differently from those who frequent E-R.org. Many people have their identity and sense of self-worth largely wrapped up in their work, and even many low-wage workers would have less satisfying lives if they didn't have the structure, feedback, and sense of purpose provided by their jobs. Without the 9-5, even when supplied with food, a place to live, medical care, etc, they they would sit on the couch all day and not feel great about themselves, their future, or their general worth to society.

- Materially, this is the first generation of Americans in a long time who, in many cases, believe they are worse off than their parents. This is particularly true of white Americans without a college degree--the low-skilled jobs that used to pay well are much harder to find. They've almost always been hard to find, throughout the world and throughout history, but we had a brief and unsustainable exception to that in the US between the 1950s and the 1980s. To these middle-age folks in despair, that's the period they saw as children, and it was "normal." We're back to the real "normal" now in the US, and the resultant reality is a hard one.
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Old 03-31-2017, 10:00 AM   #6
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To Lsbcal thinking that goosing the economy will help... not if the workers cannot even get hired due to drugs etc... to me that is why automation is being pushed as much as it is...
It would be interesting to see a Pareto chart of the causes for people being out of work. Would failed drug testing be the highest bar in that chart? We really need to see numbers on this.

Do the economists have those numbers? The charts from a link in that original article from the OP seem to only discuss causes of death. And those charts did show poisonings way up from the early 2000's (see https://www.theatlantic.com/health/a...s-pnas/413971/ ) surpassing lung cancer and suicides.
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The reasons for the increased death rate are not the usual things that kill Americans, like diabetes and heart disease. Rather, it’s suicide, alcohol and drug poisonings, and alcohol-related liver disease.
I guess there is no reporting by companies on causes for job applicant rejection. So we are just left to theorize on why people are not able to be hired. Some of that is drug related, some due to industry moving out of areas, some due to automation, etc.
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Old 03-31-2017, 10:16 AM   #7
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The Washington Post has been doing a series of feature articles on so-called white people's problems, the opioid epidemic, etc.

They published one yesterday on the rise of disability claims in white rural areas. It profiles a family in rural Alabama where everyone is on disability. The parents are pressuring the 39-year-old son to go on disability so he can add to the family's shared income (currently about $3600 a month). He'd prefer to find a job but the only trade he knows is roofing, and nobody in his part of the state has money for roofs.

The only drugs mentioned in the article were tobacco and Mountain Dew (lots of both).

Disabled, or just desperate? Rural Americans turn to disability as jobs dry up | The Washington Post
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Old 03-31-2017, 10:19 AM   #8
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Two common viewpoints on despairing about one's future:

"Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane."

"Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."
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Old 03-31-2017, 10:24 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by NW-Bound View Post
I recall that in a recent thread about longevity, someone mentioned or showed statistics that the death rate was increasing for some groups due to drug abuse or other causes.

Just now, ran across this article that explained in more details. It's the rising death rate of white Americans who are not college-educated. A couple of economists found that they are suffering from "deaths of despair" - suicide and alcohol and drug abuse.

The cause is lack of economic opportunities and poor economic prospects. It sounds bleak. The economists also provided some explanations as to why Europeans did not have the same problem.

"... whites aged 50-54 with a high-school degree or less had been dying at a rate 30 percent lower than that of that of all blacks in the same age group in 1999, but by 2015, their mortality rate was 30 percent higher than that of all blacks in that age group."


See: https://www.theatlantic.com/business...espair/520473/
There is momentum behind the college degree. I suspect that if you have one, there is correlation with getting another. Also, you may see all additional certs and skills as desirable. The group being discussed may not be on a life long learning mission.
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Old 03-31-2017, 10:26 AM   #10
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The reasons for the increased death rate are not the usual things that kill Americans, like diabetes and heart disease. Rather, it’s suicide, alcohol and drug poisonings, and alcohol-related liver disease.
As the article suggests, this has a lot to do with the ever-accelerating loss of manufacturing, construction, and retail jobs and (IMHO) the ever-increasing supply of cheap opioids. One can imagine this will only get worse as automation continues to eliminate millions of middle-class, low-skilled jobs over the next decade. What's going to happen to all those truck drivers once fully autonomous, self-driving cars are widespread? Not to mention all the employees of all the trucker service plazas and thousands of other businesses that cater to truckers along the interstates. The mind boggles at the social and economic disruption this will cause. I think we are only in the very early stages of this burgeoning crisis.
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Old 03-31-2017, 10:27 AM   #11
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they talked to one guy (I think he was a former drug user who now counsels, but could be wrong) who was saying that the immigrants are doing a good job but the Americans just wanted to do enough to get by...
Funny, but immigrants want exactly the same thing as the current/ex drug users. They just happen to be able to get by on a lot less because they are willing, and used to sacrificing more (living together, making the most out of the least, and even living in homeless conditions) and being less aspirational than Americans. Their expectations are far different and their behavior appropriate and predictable under the circumstances. The question is, should this be the norm for American workers too? For corporations looking at their largest variable expense, the answer would be "yes". The stick has taken the place of the carrot in Management circles. The 2009 crash opened the floodgates that had started after the dotcom bust.

We are all about aspirations. We are the country that brought the world "Cribs" "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire", and "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous". The stigma of criminality is tough to overcome when applying for work - as some communities have experienced for many decades - and the root cause is purely economic. Minimum wage doesn't pay for the cost of a minimal American lifestyle. To blame the problems of poor people on drugs is marketing. They are poor. Drugs cost money. So how does that work? Are we not generalizing, moralizing and militarizing over the sins of a tiny minority?

What is true is that the rich who own the drug cartels are willing to pay some of them a lot more than corporations are to work for them. Unfortunately, it's just a resume killer.

Aspirations require Hope. The reason Europe (and our wonderful neighbor Canada for that matter) have been successful is because they choose to care for their poor rather than stigmatize them. Calling the Poor "Drug Users" while offering no help to save them is simply living evidence of our failure. Even the Romans at their worst understood enough to provide sustenance for the masses - "Panem Et Circenses" (Bread and Circuses) [will keep the people happy.]
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Old 03-31-2017, 10:47 AM   #12
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Apparently, (and this is just hearsay from sitting in the eye specialist's waiting room yesterday*), there are some trained blue collar jobs available for those capable of/willing to learn the skills required.

*In a size restricted area we couldn't help but overhear a large portion of a conversation between a guy who seemed to be either a garage or car dealership owner.....he was speaking to someone who obviously knew who/what he was, and he was relating how more qualified mechanics, (those conversant with computerized diagnostics, etc), are retiring than are coming online.

The other party to the conversation, who appeared to be aware of the situation, seemed to fully agree.

Me, I was just an innocent eavesdropper who had no choice but to listen, (although I did find the conversation interesting); admittedly these are not the mass factory jobs of yesteryear, but it would seem that (some of) those who are willing and able could, with the appropriate training, find work.
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Old 03-31-2017, 10:47 AM   #13
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One of my ex-roommate out of college, when I was at my first job in Boston, was in the poor category. Yet, I often saw her with drugs. I don't buy the poor people with no money for drugs argument.
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Old 03-31-2017, 11:19 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by NW-Bound View Post
I recall that in a recent thread about longevity, someone mentioned or showed statistics that the death rate was increasing for some groups due to drug abuse or other causes.

Just now, ran across this article that explained in more details. It's the rising death rate of white Americans who are not college-educated. A couple of economists found that they are suffering from "deaths of despair" - suicide and alcohol and drug abuse.

The cause is lack of economic opportunities and poor economic prospects. It sounds bleak.
Yes, it does. Many of us here on the ER Forum have already "got it made", so to speak, and we are pretty lucky compared with some others. Honestly, I have a lot of sympathy for them. It's a tough world out there.

Seems like many employers have very little interest in hiring someone over 50 and uneducated, even with experience.

Families are falling apart too, so people don't even have the support at home that they once might have had. I am surprised that more people aren't turning to religion in their time of need, but that doesn't seem to be happening either.

Those who were over-extended in the past, with huge mortgages and loans and credit card balances, are surely finding out by now why that's not a good idea (especially if/when laid off).
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Old 03-31-2017, 11:24 AM   #15
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Funny, but immigrants want exactly the same thing as the current/ex drug users. They just happen to be able to get by on a lot less because they are willing, and used to sacrificing more (living together, making the most out of the least, and even living in homeless conditions) and being less aspirational than Americans. Their expectations are far different and their behavior appropriate and predictable under the circumstances. The question is, should this be the norm for American workers too? For corporations looking at their largest variable expense, the answer would be "yes". The stick has taken the place of the carrot in Management circles. The 2009 crash opened the floodgates that had started after the dotcom bust.

We are all about aspirations. We are the country that brought the world "Cribs" "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire", and "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous". The stigma of criminality is tough to overcome when applying for work - as some communities have experienced for many decades - and the root cause is purely economic. Minimum wage doesn't pay for the cost of a minimal American lifestyle. To blame the problems of poor people on drugs is marketing. They are poor. Drugs cost money. So how does that work? Are we not generalizing, moralizing and militarizing over the sins of a tiny minority?

What is true is that the rich who own the drug cartels are willing to pay some of them a lot more than corporations are to work for them. Unfortunately, it's just a resume killer.

Aspirations require Hope. The reason Europe (and our wonderful neighbor Canada for that matter) have been successful is because they choose to care for their poor rather than stigmatize them. Calling the Poor "Drug Users" while offering no help to save them is simply living evidence of our failure. Even the Romans at their worst understood enough to provide sustenance for the masses - "Panem Et Circenses" (Bread and Circuses) [will keep the people happy.]

Since the show was on CNN I would think that if it were about pay they would have mentioned it... when they talked to some refugees, they said they have never taken drugs or have drank alcohol in their lives... so yes, they are different than the Americans...

I am not getting into should we help or not... just saying why a good number are not getting jobs...
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Old 03-31-2017, 01:22 PM   #16
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Apparently, (and this is just hearsay from sitting in the eye specialist's waiting room yesterday*), there are some trained blue collar jobs available for those capable of/willing to learn the skills required.
I've mentioned this school before, but I don't see many like it. The school is Blue Ridge Community and Technical College and they offer what seems to be hundreds of AA degree certifications, technical certifications, for local industries.

They're offering classes specifically tailored for jobs that will be available when a new Proctor & Gamble manufacturing plant opens that is being built in the same county. They will have about 700 full-time jobs, and around here that is a big deal.

Want a job with the the power company? They offer classes on the technical aspects of being a lineman. Those jobs are not going to be outsourced or automated anytime soon - someone has to be "on the scene" when the lines go down. And even if you don't want to make a career out of it, it pays enough to support yourself and bootstrap to a better position.

They have classes for "over 50" people to build on what you already know and get a degree or cert for that. How about culinary and hotel management? They teach that.

For folks that don't have the time, money, or just don't want a four-year degree I think this school is a terrific option.
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Old 03-31-2017, 01:38 PM   #17
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For folks that don't have the time, money, or just don't want a four-year degree I think this school is a terrific option.
How much is the tuition?

I took a look at taking a computer networking class at the local community college. For 4 credit hours, the final cost ended up being $1200+.
For someone who has been unemployed and living on savings, even taking one class could be a deal breaker.
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Old 03-31-2017, 01:51 PM   #18
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How much is the tuition?
They don't make it simple.

Tuition & Fees - Blue Ridge Community and Technical College

Tuition & Fees - Blue Ridge Community and Technical College

I found a link to this page at the bottom of the page but it's in small print. What I like about this school is that they teach practical stuff that will actually pay enough to support oneself without going to a four-year school. The second link is to a page called "Cost of attendance", not the same as the first link.
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Old 03-31-2017, 02:10 PM   #19
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I like that they have a cheaper rate for senior citizens.
It is not like that in NJ.

Our local community college has practical stuff too.
And there is partnership with 4-year university so that credits will transfer.

But for a 2-year degree, you generally need about 75 credits.
That would be $12,075 = $161 x 75.
That's a big chunk of change for a lot of people.
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Old 03-31-2017, 02:21 PM   #20
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But for a 2-year degree, you generally need about 75 credits.
That would be $12,075 = $161 x 75.
That's a big chunk of change for a lot of people.
True, but some good jobs/job tracks can be started with just a certificate. I think employers want to see 1) that person has specific skills that they can use and 2) that the person has enough discipline and intelligence to complete a course of study. A certificate and a solid record in a community college can go quite a ways to putting an applicant ahead of the general public.
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