Death and Despair in America

I just finished the most boring book that has ever changed my life.

Bear with me here:

In their 2020 book, “Deaths of Despair and The Future of Capitalism”, Professors Anne Case and Angus Deaton explore the decrease in life expectancy in the U.S. More specifically, in white people without a college degree. And not just white men—white women have kept pace in this area. They name this increased mortality deaths of despair because they are from suicide, alcoholism, and drug overdoses.

I found the book referenced in this article, and decided to take the whole thing for a spin.

I’m glad I did.

Case and Deaton take a good hard look at what’s happening with mortality numbers in the United States from a rigorous, statistical perspective. The book leavens the numbers with a thoughtful narrative, but, I’ll admit, it was a bit dense.

Still, nothing has helped me understand the roots of populism in our country like this book. People are dying in middle America. People are despairing. It’s a reality that’s worth looking into, and has not been given sufficient weight in the discourse about the rise of anti-science, and fractious partisanship.

Well worth the read. Would love to discuss more with anyone who does!

Published by Mike Evans

Founder of Founded GrubHub in 2004. Rode my bike across the US. Wrote a sci-fi novel.

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