Sunday, September 23, 2012

End is coming quicker: dying faster

O.k. so the apocalypse, in some fashion, will be on us soon.  It looks like some of us, at least some of the poorer folks are less likely to live long enough to see it.

A team lead by, S. Jay Olshansky of the University of Illinois at Chicago, have found some pretty severe drops in life expectancy.

Reversing Trend, Life Shrinks for Some Whites
Sabrina Taverni, New York Times, 21 September 2012 (no hat tip)

The steepest declines were for white women without a high school diploma, who lost five years of life between 1990 and 2008, said S. Jay Olshansky, a public health professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the lead investigator on the study, published last month in Health Affairs. By 2008, life expectancy for black women without a high school diploma had surpassed that of white women of the same education level, the study found.
White men lacking a high school diploma lost three years of life. Life expectancy for both blacks and Hispanics of the same education level rose, the data showed. But blacks over all do not live as long as whites, while Hispanics live longer than both whites and blacks.

The cause of this is unclear.  They list such factors as: an increase in prescription drug overdoses among young whites, more smoking by less educated women, and less health insurance for low end workers.  These are all fine, but there would have to be huge changes in those numbers to make for a five year change.
But then they go on to make the following observation:

The five-year decline for white women rivals the catastrophic seven-year drop for Russian men in the years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, said Michael Marmot, director of the Institute of Health Equity in London.

The decline among the least educated non-Hispanic whites, who make up a shrinking share of the population, widened an already troubling gap. The latest estimate shows life expectancy for white women without a high school diploma was 73.5 years, compared with 83.9 years for white women with a college degree or more. For white men, the gap was even bigger: 67.5 years for the least educated white men compared with 80.4 for those with a college degree or better.
They go on to note a number of other indicaters that life for those in the lower ranks is less than ideal at the moment.
So what it is really saying is that "for people whose lives really suck, life expectancy drops like a rock".    The white women may be losing the most years, because they have the most years to give up.  But within the group that was the bedrock of what is often referred to as the "working poor" life has not been going real well.  They have become the "unworking" poor. 


Mamma Bear said...

My grandparents were poor old dirt farmers. My grandfather was in his 90's when he died and my great grandmother was over 100. My grandmother did die of a heart attack in her 60's. My mother is in her mid seventies and still going strong. She does not take one prescription med. Not any of these people had a high school diploma. My grandfather and great grandmother smoked a pipe. My mother smoked for many years until she quit.

Guess my family is made of stronger stuff than those surveyed or is it because they all worked for a living. No educations because there was a farm to run. Educated or not they did not sit on their butts waiting on the government to take care of them. Wonder if that made the difference?

PioneerPreppy said...

As things progress women are being expected to work longer hours and in more repetitive jobs. Several States also struck down repetitive job injuries as a comp claim too a few years back and that is beginning to take it's toll. The lower end of the scale women are paying the price for the upper mobility of a few.

russell1200 said...

Mamma Bear: My wifes father was raised on a farm. He is getting close to 80. I am sure farmers have it physically tougher than most, but I think the mechanical revolution in farming has made a huge impact.

And of course their are outliers.

Pioneer: They would not apply in NC either. NC says that it has to be an "accident" not part of their normal work. One recent case had an electrician (not me) pulling wire when he hurt himself. Because pulling wire was a "normal" activity of his work, he could not get workers comp.

There has been a fair amount of "discussion" as to whether the feminist ideals are particularly applicable to poor to working class women. I think some of them are, but some of them are bit dubious. The ones that really make me laugh are when there aren't enough woman in "X", and if you really look close at tit it it is likely because "X" is a crappy field to be in, and woman apparently have enough sense not to move into those "opportunities".

Craig Cavanaugh said...

Well that confirms it, I will never get my socialist security money back. Won't live long enough. Check please!

russell1200 said...

Craig: The system was never really intended to serve the retired working poor. The age limit was set high enough so that they could not collect. And the number of people who were white collar workers was not large enough for them to consider worrying about at the time.

As they say "Your check is in the mail".