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Death rates have risen sharply among middle aged white people in the US, study finds

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 04 November 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h5946
  1. Michael McCarthy
  1. 1Seattle

After decades of steady decline, mortality rates among middle aged white people in the United States have risen sharply, driven largely by an increase in deaths from drug and alcohol poisonings, suicide, and liver disease, a study has found.

The rise in midlife mortality has been paralleled by an increase in self reported morbidity, the researchers reported, with more middle aged white people reporting poor health, pain, psychological distress, alcohol use, and difficulties with activities of daily living.

The study, which was conducted by Anne Case and Angus Deaton, both professors of economics at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, was published online on 2 November in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.1 Deaton was recently awarded the 2015 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

Case and Deaton analyzed US morbidity and mortality statistics for a fifteen year period from 1999 to 2013. Previous studies found that between 1970 and 2013 the all cause mortality among those aged 45-54 in the US fell by 44%. Similar improvements were seen in other wealthy nations, such as France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Case and …

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