Life Expectancy For Least-Educated Whites Decline: Why?

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/21/us/life-expectancy-for-less-educated-whites-in-us-is-shrinking.html?pagewanted=all
This is a really frightening trend, and one of the few news article I’ve ever read that actually distressed me. However reading through:

Thus from the same pool of people in 1990, life-spans might really have simply stayed stagnant or declined slightly as the other studies indicate.

While an explanation that’s being thrown around in the lack of health care, along with welfare reforms, those do not take into account that the poorest blacks and Hispanics have gained in life expectancy. In addition Hispanics in general live longer than whites despite being poorer and now the least-educated black women are living longer than the least-educated white women.

So the relevant questions are:

  1. Are the trends indicated in this study really occurring or is this simply because of the shrinking pool of whites without a high school degree?
  2. If there really is a trend of declining life-span what is causing it and what can we do about it?
  3. Why are the least-educated blacks and Hispanics increasing their lifespan and why do Hispanics live longer than whites despite being poorer in general?

Is this controlled for obesity?

Obesity gets mentioned in the article but blacks and Hispanics have also been affected severely by the obesity epidemic.

Yeah but blacks and Hispanics have come from a much worse place than whites, even stupid ones, so there have been big benefits to go up against the obesity epidemic.

I bet this is mostly obesity and perhaps partly lack of healthcare. Also, stupid whites have not been subject to the flynn effect and intellectually curiosity to make up for their doing less work and having less of a family/community “ethic” than they did a century ago, so therefore have less idea of how to look after themselves, stuff they’d have picked up by osmosis before.

My guess is that it’s strongly tied to the relative drop in that population from 22% to 12%. The segment of the population that formerly would have been the healthier, more-together, longer-lived half of the high-school educated cohort now goes on to get a college degree. The 12% left behind in the high-school-only group may well be living roughly as long as they always have.

That’s…an interesting pick as Most Distressing News Article Ever.

I’ve found that my poor black patients in poor health know more about community resources available to them - Meals on Wheels, Catholic Charities homemakers, etc. - and utilize them more often than do my poor white patients in poor health. Just observational, not anything scientific, but I wonder if the marketing arms and social workers who serve traditionally underserved populations are now, de facto, underserving the poor white folks in the next neighborhood over.

That’s where I’d start to look, anyhow - are there more resources for nutrition education, smoking prevention, health screenings, SNAP sign-ups, Medicaid applications and community services in poor minority schools? It would make sense, historically, to focus your efforts where they were perceived as most needed, but it’s possible that we need to re-examine the numbers and see who is underserved now.

Poor white trash have it bad. I’ve known that for a looong time.

“The Redneck Manifesto” is a pretty good treatment of this.

In that case the life expectancies should be equal but Hispanics throughout have had higher life expectancies than whites and now black women are beating their lighter counterparts.

Plus black women apparently have the highest obesity rates in the US: http://www.bet.com/news/health/2011/07/29/why-do-black-women-have-the-highest-rates-of-obesity-in-the-u-s-.html

Considering millions are being affected if true and effectively having their lives cut short and that we are experiencing something similar to Russia’s post-Communist disaster, I’d say its pretty disturbing.

Oh no, a certain subgroup of white people isn’t in a better position about something than their nonwhite counterparts! Help!!!

I’m not at all saying it doesn’t matter and I want everyone to have the resources to live a healthy life, I just don’t see why it would be so much more disturbing than so many other things that also adversely affect the lives of millions of people.

Dude, how many people of the truly-underprivileged white type do you even know? These are not people with opportunities, connections, health knowledge, etc… They usually live in places where a lot of others of their type live, in rural or semi-rural economically-depressed areas, and, since none of them have much education, money, or useful life knowledge, they are generally screwed from the beginning.

People like that don’t get shown on TV or in movies, except maybe the occiasional episode of Cops, and even that is rare, because generally Cops is filmed in more urban locations.

I seriously doubt you know these kinds of people. Sadly, I know quite a few, both as an a adult and growing up. Their lives are extremely depressing.

Nowhere did I express any doubt that there is such a thing as severely underprivileged white people. Of course there are. And you probably have the wrong idea about me, because I’m a super poor white person myself, although not rural or uneducated. I do know poor people who are rural and uneducated though.

The point is just that **Qin **is weird and finding extreme distress in a weird place. A certain group of white people not doing well health-wise is no worse or better than any other group not doing well health-wise. It’s a concern, but it’s not the most alarming thing that’s ever been printed.

This is probably it. Before we know if this effect has been corrected for or not, there is no point in speculating any further.

I think it would be interesting to know what’s killing uneducated white women, does the CDC have data that specific? It would then be interesting to know what’s different in the black and Hispanic communities.

For example, from http://www.cdc.gov/women/lcod/ you get heart disease, cancer and stroke as the top three in each group. When you look at number 4 blacks and Hispanics have diabetes instead of chronic lower respiratory diseases.

I don’t feel like speculating much beyond that.

I’m only concerned because the article inititally indicated that life-spans were declining, which only happens in the case of a highly deadly epidemic (like AIDS) or total societal collapse (like Russia)

They’re not declining overall. It’s one rather small segment of the population.

Take a look at the outside smoking areas of many blue collar workplaces sometime. Chances are, you’ll find a high percentage of white women. In my area, most poor, working blacks and hispanics don’t smoke, where at least someone in the poor, working white households do.

Coincidence?

Definitely not a coincidence. But the question is why are poor, uneducated white women more likely to smoke than poor, uneducated black/Hispanic women?

And then the second question is why are PUWW more likely to smoke than those with a highschool education?

In theory there is a team at the CDC sitting around a table asking these sorts of questions. I think it was mentioned up thread that there might have been efforts to educate and inform black and Hispanic women about general health problems such as smoking and diabetes, but that for some reason white women weren’t targeted.

There is also the very real possibility that an ad campaign or tv-show 20 years ago impacted one demographic enough to cause this little shift. While everyone else realized how stupid smoking is, PUWW thought it was cool. Reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell talking about suicide on Polynesian islands.

Why are blacks and Hispanics more likely to be obese?

The answer is usually culture. The foods people eat and the attitudes they have towards weight.

If statistics revealed that white people tend to start smoking earlier in life than other demographics, I wouldn’t be surprised. Seems to me that growing up, the kids who always got in trouble for smoking in the restrooms or in the stairwells were white. So perhaps if they are earlier adopters of the tobacco habit, their life-long burden of respiratory carcinogens is higher and they have a higher rate of developing illnesses later in life. The “why” is the same one we would use for disproportionate obesity. Differences in cultural acceptance and behavior.

I guess I don’t see why this has to be any more head-scratchy than the myriad of other “disproportionate” statistics that we are constantly assaulted with but never think twice about.