WSJ: Death Rate for Middle-Aged Whites on the Increase

Current trends are setting back years of gains in longevity. No other wealthy nation has seen such a reversal. After declining 2% each year between 1978 and 1998, mortality of whites aged 45 to 54 has increased half a percent each year between 1999 and 2013. Most had no more than a high school education, yet deaths also rose for better-educated whites as well. Rates for black and Hispanic are falling, with the life expectancy gap between black and white narrowing due to the rising death rate among whites.

The increase has been advanced by suicide, alcohol abuse, drug overdoses, and chronic liver disease. Mental health problems and difficulties dealing with a stressful life are increasing complaints of middle-aged whites. By the time this age group reaches Medicare age, they may be in worse health than the current elderly population. One in three have chronic pain, which may explain the decrease in employment. Whites have one of the highest rates of prescription drug abuse with painkillers, and the majority of those who died from overdosing were white. More research is needed to understand chronic pain and find non-addicting medications to treat it.

McKay, Betsy. “The Death Rate Is Rising for Middle-Aged Whites.” Articles. The Wall Street Journal, 3 Nov 2015. Web. 3 Nov 2015.

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