Magazine May 4, 2020, Issue

What’s Behind the Rise in Deaths of Despair?

From the cover of Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism (Princeton University Press)
Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism, by Anne Case and Angus Deaton (Princeton University Press, 312 pp., $27.95)

In 2015, economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton garnered a lot of media coverage for an academic paper documenting a rise in “deaths of despair” — from alcohol, suicide, and drugs — among American whites, especially middle-aged whites without a college degree. Now they have fleshed out their thoughts on the issue in a book. Their argument is that in order to combat this plague, the U.S. needs to boost wages, bring back unions, fight crony capitalism, and deeply reform the health-care system.

If that strikes you as a preexisting wish list that’s been tacked on to a problem that happened

(Source: Social Capital Project analyses of CDC data. Prior to 1998, the trend includes Hispanic whites.)

To Read the Full Story

This article appears as “What Drives Deaths of Despair?” in the May 4, 2020, print edition of National Review.

Something to Consider

If you enjoyed this article, we have a proposition for you: Join NRPLUS. Members get all of our content on the site including the digital magazine and archives, no paywalls or content meters, an advertising-minimal experience, and unique access to our writers and editors (through conference calls, social media groups, and more). And importantly, NRPLUS members help keep NR going.

If you enjoyed this article and want to see more premium content like this, we have a proposition for you: Join NRPLUS.


Become a Member

In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners



The Latest