Economist Anne Case on Remedies for Falling US Life Expectancy
The United States is experiencing a startling trend, one that’s unique among high-income countries: starting around 2010, overall life expectancy plateaued and then began to decline, slowly at first and then precipitously during the COVID-19 pandemic. This decline is especially surprising considering that the United States, one of the richest countries in the world, spends more per capita on health care than almost all its peers.
Prior to the pandemic, this trend was driven by an increase in mortality among Americans without college educations, who experienced higher rates of suicide, opioid overdoses, and alcohol-related deaths. Documenting and analyzing these self-inflicted deaths, the economist Anne Case (with Angus Deaton) coined the term “deaths of despair.”
Issues editor Sara Frueh spoke with Case to get her insights into the economic and social forces driving deaths of despair, the ways that current policy initiatives might affect working-class Americans, and how policymakers could start to generate meaningful paths forward for more US workers.
Read more about reducing deaths of despair by building “a society and an economy that respect and reward work of all kinds.”