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.
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.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.
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.