By SELINA WANG (MSB ‘19)
Researchers at Princeton University recently published a report that documents increased mortality and morbidity among middle aged (45-54) white non-hispanic men and women in the US. They collected information from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and analyzed them based on country, race, and education. They found that the greatest contributing factors are rises in suicide, drug abuse, cirrhosis, and chronic liver diseases.
White non-hispanic mortality rates in the US have always been relatively higher than that of other developed nations; however, like the other countries, American rates have declined at an average of 2% per year in recent history. This changed around 1998. While other countries continued to follow declining trends, the US began to see a rise of 0.5% a year in mortality rates. This rising trend is specifically unique to white, non-hispanic middle-aged Americans; hispanics continued to see dropping rates comparable to the 2% experienced historically and African Americans even exceeded that with an average drop of 2.8% annually. The research also show that among this population, mortality rates differ by education level. Those with a high school diploma equivalent or less saw higher mortality rates than those with more education. Their mortality rates rose more than 400% the historical level for poisoning and 50% for chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis.
The researchers’ findings indicate that not only have mortality rates increased among the white non-hispanic middle aged population, their perception of their overall health has also declined. More reports of chronic pain has lead to increased opioid prescription, which correlations with increased prescription abuse. Chronic pain is also a risk factor for alcoholism, which could lead to liver disease and cirrhosis.
These disparaging trends suggest that as the current middle-age population moves into old-age, their Medicare needs will exceed projected needs and their livelihood will be more threatened than those before.
Access the full report here: http://wws.princeton.edu/faculty-research/research/item/rising-morbidity-and-mortality-midlife-among-white-non-hispanic