Mortality rates in advanced countries have been on a large and steady decline. However, a recent study shows A Group of Middle-Aged Whites in the U.S. is Dying at a Startling Rate.

A large segment of white middle-aged Americans has suffered a startling rise in its death rate since 1999, according to a review of statistics published Monday that shows a sharp reversal in decades of progress toward longer lives.

The mortality rate for white men and women ages 45-54 with less than a college education increased markedly between 1999 and 2013, most likely because of problems with legal and illegal drugs, alcohol and suicide, the researchers concluded. Before then, death rates for that group dropped steadily, and at a faster pace.

An increase in the mortality rate for any large demographic group in an advanced nation has been virtually unheard of in recent decades, with the exception of Russian men after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The rising death rate was accompanied by an increase in the rate of illness, the authors wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Drugs and alcohol, and suicide . . . are clearly the proximate cause,” said Angus Deaton, the 2015 Nobel laureate in economics, who co-authored the paper with his wife, Anne Case. Both are economics professors at Princeton University.

“Half a million people are dead who should not be dead,” he added. “About 40 times the Ebola stats. You’re getting up there with HIV-AIDS.”

Mortality Rate Comparison


  • USW- US Whites
  • FRA – France
  • GER – Germany
  • USH – US Hispanics
  • UK – United Kingdom
  • CAN – Canada
  • AUS – Austria
  • SWE – Sweden

Wealth Factor

Education and wealth tend to go together, and that’s Another Reason a Large Group of Whites is Dying at a Higher Rate.

Researchers are blaming drugs, alcohol and suicide for a troubling increase in the mortality rate among a large group of white men and women in middle age. Another deadly factor in the trend could well be economic.

Demographers have long known that wealthier people tend to live longer than the poor — it’s one of the many advantages of affluence.

Inequality in Life Expectancy Women

Above: Life Expectancy for 50-Year Olds in a Given Year by Quintile of Income Over Previous 10 Years.

Income a Direct Cause?

Is income another “reason” or is income the determining factor in suicide and drugs use? It could be both as those with higher incomes are more likely to have better health care. But what about the US health care system vs the rest of the world?

In regards to the first article, are middle-aged whites more prone to suicide than other groups if they do not have a job?

Mike “Mish” Shedlock