Why White Working Class Americans Are Dying "Deaths of Despair"
Publisher: In These Times
Date Written: 25/03/2017
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX20540
Franklin examines the reasons behind the steadily growing mortality rates for working-class white Americans, which he attributes to both workplace hazards and mental illness resulting from joblessness, poverty, and despair.
Without pinpointing a specific reason, Deaton and Case suggest that the cycle of "deaths of despair" comes from the collapse of jobs and benefits for these workers who then tumble into heart-breaking problems of physical and emotional health, family difficulties, drugs and just plain survival. It is a portrait of cascading hopelessness, where workers go from stagnating wages to joblessness to dropping out of the job market.
If you've spent any time listening to workers' heartbreak for the last few decades as I have, however, it is saddening to hear the shock and controversy among experts over the economists' last two reports.
They could have heard the cries for help building.
All they needed to do was spend some time in a union hall, hang out at an unemployment office, kill an afternoon in a bar or the gloomy living room of a worker on the decline to hear the despair that fills workers' hearts. But this is an especially American tragedy rooted in our workaday DNA.
An American dilemma because when good-paying jobs began to vanish for workers with a strong back, grit to do a tough or mindless job and little education besides high school, it's like somebody stole their soul.