Republican primary elections and the mortality of white males in the US

This is Paul Krugman’s take on a new study that shows that the mortality among middle age white males is on the rise in the United States:

This new paper by Angus Deaton and Anne Case on mortality among middle-aged whites has been getting a lot of attention, and rightly so. As a number of people have pointed out, the closest parallel to America’s rising death rates — driven by poisonings, suicide, and chronic liver diseases — is the collapse in Russian life expectancy after the fall of Communism. (No, we’re not doing as badly as that, but still.) What the data look like is a society gripped by despair, with a surge of unhealthy behaviors and an epidemic of drugs, very much including alcohol.

This picture goes along with declining labor force participation and other indicators of social unraveling. Something terrible is happening to white American society. And it’s a uniquely American phenomenon; you don’t see anything like it in Europe, which means that it’s not about a demoralizing welfare state or any of the other myths so popular in our political discourse.

There’s a lot to be said, or at any rate suggested, about the politics of this disaster. But I’ll come back to that some other time. For now, the thing to understand, to say it again, is that something terrible is happening to our country — and it’s not about Those People, it’s about the white majority.

Note: the rise in mortality is caused by the rise in mortality in the lower educated, lower economic level white males. Note: this table is about CHANGE in mortality rates, not mortality rates.


This reminded me of some of the predictions that the social scientist William Julius Wilson made in his book When Work Disappears. He predicted that some of the social problems that afflict the poorer African American community would start showing up in the lower economic class white communities.

This is an interesting article about the Republican primary. Many Republican districts allocate delegates by vote share in their respective districts. So in “blue” districts (where there are fewer Republicans), the vote of a Republican in a primary election carries extra impact (on a “per voter basis”), and that might give the more moderate Republican candidates a nationwide advantage, at least in Presidential elections. In short, being more extreme helps in Republican districts (hence what we see in the House) but hurts in the Presidential primary.


November 5, 2015 - Posted by | politics, politics/social, social/political | ,

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