And though it's the least educated among this demographic, those with a high-school degree or less, who are driving the rise in the death rate, according to the article, "In middle age (the least educated) are dying at such a high rate that they are increasing the death rate for the entire group of middle-aged white Americans."
The research also found middle-aged whites who lack a college degree to be in poorer physical health. And in more pain. And in more financial distress. And in more mental distress. As Dr. Deaton explained, "Increases in mortality rates in middle-aged whites rose in parallel with their increasing report of pain, poor health and distress."
And yet, according to the article, it's not clear why only poorly educated whites are suffering an epidemic of pain, distress, substance abuse and suicide; even as the death rate among this group is on the rise, the death rate for middle-aged Americans of other races and ethnic groups, such as blacks and hispanics, as well as college educated whites and all middle-aged people in other developed countries, is declining.
And so the men and women who half a century ago ago were still part of the work force that ran our country's factories, industries, and services, the people who were part of the beating heart
of the American economy and society, people who could buy a home, raise a family, and live a good life on a high-school educated worker's pay are, in the year 2015, an endangered population. a suffering population. A population more of more of whom have so lost any joy of living, any reason for living, that they're killing themselves slowly through drugs and alcohol and quickly through suicide.
America, we have a problem.
"Rise In Deaths For U.S. Whites In Middle Age", Gina Kolata, The New York Times, November 3, 2015, pg. 1