Samuel Preston, David Cutler, and Ronald Lee taken aback by rising mortality among middle-aged white Americans

NIA Aging Centers News Reference

In response to recent findings by Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton on the rising death rates among white Americans in their 40s and 50s - and the causes - researchers Samuel Preston, David Cutler, and Ronald Lee each expressed profound surprise. Case and Deaton found that the mortality rate for whites 45 to 54 years old with no more than a high school education increased by 134 deaths per 100,000 from 1999 to 2014. In contrast, the death rates for middle-aged blacks and Hispanics, and for younger and older people of all races and ethnic groups, declined during the same period. Further, they found that, taken together, suicides, drugs and alcohol explained the overall increase in deaths. David Cutler said that these new findings show that the assumed blips in substance-related mortality “are more like incoming missiles.” Preston said: “This is a vivid indication that something is awry in these American households.” Ronald Lee said: “Seldom have I felt as affected by a paper. It seems so sad.”

Researcher Profiles:
Samuel H. Preston (U-Penn)
David M. Cutler (Harvard)
Ronald D. Lee (Berkeley)

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Additional Media Coverage:

"Death Rates Rising for Middle-Aged White Americans, Study Finds" - New York Times. 11/2/2015.

"Mortality Rate for Poorly Educated, Middle-Aged Whites Skyrockets to Shocking Level" - Slate. 11/2/2015.

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