Monday, February 27, 2017

AMERICA - Life Expectancy

"How the feeling of falling behind fuels deadly distress for white Americans" PBS NewsHour 2/23/2017


SUMMARY:  Why have middle aged, white Americans experienced a stunning rise in premature deaths due to alcoholism, suicide and drug abuse?  Economists who have documented the dramatic decrease in life expectancy say an obvious place to look is the loss of work and economic status for the working class.  But economics correspondent Paul Solman finds that's not the whole story.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  But first, the second of a two-part look at the declining life expectancy for some middle-aged white Americans.

Last week, economics correspondent Paul Solman examined the role prescription painkillers and alcohol may play in the trend.

Tonight, he explores how the economy and the job market may be involved.

Its part of our weekly series Making Sen$e, which airs Thursdays.

PAUL SOLMAN (NewsHour):  The Hardee's in Maysville, Kentucky, a popular hangout for the senior set.

Martin Sauer used to work for the sheriff's department, where he says he saw his share of Saturday night drunks, but nothing like the current opioid drug epidemic.

MARTIN SAUER, Kentucky:  People get hooked on it and can't get off of it, or don't want to, causing a lot of younger generation to lose their lives.

PAUL SOLMAN:  And by younger generation, Sauer means his middle-aged neighbors, who, as we reported last week, are experiencing a stunning rise in premature deaths due to alcoholism, suicide and drug abuse.  But why?

ANGUS DEATON, Economist:  The health crisis here is particularly among white working-class or white people with a high school and no more.  For those people, the economy's been very hard for a very long time.

PAUL SOLMAN:  Predictably, Angus Deaton and Anne Case, economists who have documented the dramatic decrease in life expectancy, say an obvious place to look for a cause is the economy.

ANNE CASE, Economist:  It used to be, with a high school degree, you could get a job, that actually could provide for your family.  And the disappearance of those may lead people to feel a lot more stressed.

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