More Middle-Aged White Americans Dying From Opiate Addiction, Alcoholism and Suicide; Stunning Increase in Death Rates

For many years death rates have declined for most Americans but this is not true for middle-aged whites. A new study by two Princeton economists indicates death rates are rising for white Americans ages 45-54, especially those with a high school education or less. The study, conducted by Angus Deaton, who recently won a Nobel Prize in Economics, and Anne Case, found that death rates have climbed a half a percent each year between 1999 and 2013 for this group of Americans.

In a CNN article, co-author Anne Case observes: “We have come to expect mortality rates in middle age to continue to decline, which they did throughout most of the 20thcentury…it was really a surprise to see a sustained period when mortality rates actually increased (among middle-aged white Americans).”

The main causes of death were suicide and complications from alcoholism and drug abuse, especially from pain medication often legally prescribed by doctors. (In fact, every 19 minutes someone dies from an accidental prescription drug overdose.)

More research is needed to understand the underlying causes for the increase in these death rates, but some point to uncertain economic conditions coupled with easy access to opiates.

For more check out this CNN article and video. The video focuses especially on the dangerous effects prescribed opiates can have on the human body, especially when linked with things like alcohol. Also see this New York Times article and for the complete study click Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


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