Friday, September 21, 2012

Life Expectancy Declines for Poor Whites in U.S.

Poor white Americans are seeing their life expectancy decrease in trend that is close to what happened during the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Researchers have found that white women who did not finish high school saw the steepest decline and lost five years of their lives between 1990 and 2008.

White men with a similar education died three years earlier than they should have over the same period.
Black and Latino men and women, however, all saw their life expectancy rise.

* * *

Until now rising life expectancies have been a given in the developed world and that decreases only happened in war-torn African countries.

But a combination of unhealthy lifestyles, obesity and prescription drug overdoses appear to be changing that.

The research found that a lack of education was the key factor - white women who did not finish high school lived to 78.5 years in 1990 but just 73.5 years in 2008.

By comparison white women who finished college lived for 83.9 years.

Men saw a drop from 70.5 to 67.5 years over the same period but when you factor in education, the gap was even bigger.

The researchers found that those who finished college lived for 80.4 years respectively - 13 years more than their less educated equivalents.

Lead researcher S. Jay Olshansky, a public health professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said that such life expectancies were on a par with those seen in America in the 1950s and 60.

And at the same time, black men and women- even if they had a poor education - saw their numbers steadily rise.
I would suggest a different explanation as to why minorities are living longer and poor whites are not--discrimination against poor whites. Government aid and assistance is disproportionately aimed at minorities and urban areas. (See also this about reverse discrimination in college admissions).

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