Poor Americans’ lives getting shorter

This 20 April 2016 video from the USA is called Life Expectancy for White Women Declines in U.S.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

Life expectancy falling for the poorest Americans

22 September 2012

According to a study conducted for the professional journal Health Affairs, life expectancy is falling for significant sections of the working class in the United States, and in some cases has reverted to levels not seen in half a century.

The figures reported are stark. The gap in life expectancy between the most socially privileged and the most socially disadvantaged groups in American society is more than 10 years for women and more than 14 years for men. The authors write: “These gaps have widened over time and have led to at least two ‘Americas’…”

The authors draw particular attention to the actual decline in life expectancy among the poorest sections of the white working class, those with less than a high school education. Life expectancy for women in that subgroup fell from more than 78 years in 1990 to 74 years in 2008. The figure for men also declined, by three years.

Across all racial groups—white, black and Hispanic—the authors wrote: “We found that in 2008 US adult men and women with fewer than twelve years of education had life expectancies not much better than those of all adults in the 1950s and 1960s.”

Researchers suggested that rising obesity, higher rates of smoking among women, abuse of prescription drugs, and a decline in health insurance coverage—43 percent of the least-educated had no health insurance in 2006—may all have been contributing factors.

Michael Marmot, director of the Institute of Health Equity in London, told the New York Times that the decline in life expectancy for poor white women over the five-year period from 2003 to 2008 brought to mind the seven years of falling life expectancy for Russian men after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

This comment is all the more striking given that the five years from 2003 to 2008 largely preceded the Wall Street crash of September 2008 and the ensuing plunge of the US and world economy into the deepest slump since the Great Depression of the 1930s. There is no doubt that all the social evils discussed in the Health Affairs report have worsened over the past four years.

The decline for poor white women produced the remarkable result that in 2008 life expectancy for white women without a high school diploma was actually lower than for black women with the same educational level, the first time that such an inversion has been reported in relation to a major indicator of social distress.

A study by Brookings Institution economists released Friday documents a sharp increase in life span divergences between the rich and the poor in America. The report, based on an analysis of Census Bureau and Social Security Administration data, concludes that for men born in 1950, the gap in life expectancy between the top 10 percent of wage earners and the bottom 10 percent is more than double the gap for their counterparts born in 1920: here.

10 thoughts on “Poor Americans’ lives getting shorter

  1. There were several (and I mean SEVERAL) articles back in the early 1990’s that stated the workplace would be divided into two groups of people; 1) the ones that would study new technologies, new tools and new methods and 2) those that would treat their employment as a necessary evil. The articles said that the income for each group would widen. Both have come to be true with the studiers being able to widen the gap even more and the others fighting for jobs that were being accomplished much cheaper due to low overseas wages. So now we have a smaller “middle-class” that should not surprise anyone. To make things worse our current federal administration is drawing a characiture of class warfare. I hate to ask the government for any money to be spent on anything; however, if we don’t start pumping money into school vouchers, trade schools and apprenticeships the gap will continue to grow.


    • Hi Waldo, the subject of the blog post is “the gap in life expectancy between the most socially privileged and the most socially disadvantaged groups in American society”. If you “study new technologies, new tools” etc., then you may move from unskilled worker to skilled worker. That, however, will hardly make you the CEO, or a millionaire; let alone a billionaire member of “the most socially privileged”.

      Also, very many United States skilled workers lost their jobs, due to outsourcing by multinational corporations; no matter how much these individuals may have studied.


      • “Hardly make you the CEO” ? I wish I had a dollar for every CEO that pulled himself up from his high school education by thoughtful perserverance. There have to be millions of them in the US. One of our best friends is a lady with that drive that ended up being president of a manufacturing firm that sold products to tele-com companies worldwide. Try not to forget the college drop-outs such as Gates.


        • Hi, Bill Gates is indeed a college drop-out, but from a rich family; he profited from the work of others with more computer skills than him, but not as clever in manoeuvring as him, and from his connections to IBM and the Pentagon.

          So, not a typical example of what you called “studier”.


          • Bill Gates did not make his big money off of IBM. He offered IBM something called “Windows” and they refused it. They wanted DOS (Disc Operating System) which he was helping them with. He then asked if they would mind if he sold that “Windows” thingy to IBM-like clone companies. They smiled and said “go ahead.” The rest is history, including the fact that IBM almost bit the dust in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s because of that screw-up.


  2. Hi, what is also history is that if Microsoft would make cars instead of computer software like MS-DOS, those cars would stand still 7 times a day in mid traffic 🙂 Windows was based on earlier ideas by Apple and Xerox.


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