According to Princeton economists Anne Case and Sir Angus Deaton, in a paper released last Thursday, the loss of middle-income jobs for those holding high school diplomas or less has triggered broad problems for middle-aged white Americans. The paper said that this group was more likely than their college-educated counterparts to be unemployed, unmarried or afflicted with poor health.
"This is a story of the collapse of the white working class," Sir Angus Deaton said in an interview with NPR. "The labor market has very much turned against them."
Although these marketplace dynamics helped elect President Donald Trump, Deaton said President Trump's policies are unlikely to reverse these trends, particularly with the health care legislation that's now before the House. That bill would basically lead to higher premiums for older Americans, the Congressional Budget Office reported.
"The policies that you see, seem almost perfectly designed to hurt the very people who voted for him," Sir Deaton pointed out in the interview.
The Anne Case and Angus Deaton paper was issued by the Brookings Institution, and follows up on research they released in 2015 that first documented a sharp increase in mortality among middle-aged whites.
In 2015 they pointed out that since 1999, white men and women ages 45 through 54 have endured a sharp increase in "deaths of despair." These deaths of despair include suicides, drug overdoses, and alcohol-related deaths such as liver failure.
In the paper released last Thursday, Case and Deaton show a very clear relationship between rising death rates and changes in the job market since the 1970s. They find that men without college degrees are less likely to receive rising incomes over time, which they've identified as a trend "consistent with men moving to lower and lower skilled jobs."
Other research has also found that Americans with only high school diplomas are less likely to get married or purchase a home, and more likely to get divorced if they do enter matrimony.
If you would like to see more on this report in NPR, you can go to this URL: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/03/23/521083335/the-forces-driving-middle-aged-white-peoples-deaths-of-despair