The U.S. death rate has been falling for decades, but researchers have detected one group in which the rates have been steadily ticking up – middle-aged white people. Suicides and deaths from drug overdose and alcohol abuse are being blamed.
Deaths rates for other races have continued to fall, as they have for whites 65 and older. But death rates for whites 35 to 44 have been level recently, they’re beginning to turn up for whites 55 to 64, and – most strikingly – death rates for whites ages 45 to 54 have risen by half a percent per year since 1998, said the authors, Anne Case and Angus Deaton of Princeton University.
The increase started in the late 1990s and probably is related to the increased availability around that time of certain prescription painkillers, they said.
“It certainly can’t be helping,” said Deaton, who last month was awarded a Nobel Prize in economics for unrelated work on consumer spending.