This graph, from a recent article by Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton, is the most intriguing and heartbreaking one of 2015, in my view. It shows a rise in all-cause mortality for non-Hispanic whites (USW), aged 45 to 54, in the United States, compared with notable declines for that demographic group in six other Western nations and for U.S. Hispanics (USH).
Why have middle-aged white Americans not experienced survival gains, as their same-age counterparts in other countries and Americans of other ages have done? Case and Deaton show that the incidence of chronic pain is high for this group and that deaths from chronic liver disease, accidental poisonings, and suicide are rising. We must figure out what to do about it.
This blog post originally appeared in NEJM Catalyst on December 21, 2015.