U.S. Life Expectancy May Be Starting to Fall
I had predicted this would happen in the future, but it turns out it may have already started to happen in the recent past. According to this report “for generations of Americans, it was a given that children would live longer than their parents. But there is mounting evidence that this trend has reversed itself for the country's least-educated whites, an increasingly troubled group whose life expectancy has fallen by four years since 1990.” Recall that the median wage of those without a high school diploma started to fall first, in the mid-1970s, followed by high school graduates, and then college graduates. Soon only the one percent was getting ahead with everyone else worse off. But now, perhaps it is only the 0.1 percent are getting ahead. Perhaps the rise in early death will work the same way – working its way up the socio-economic ladder a few decades after the wage declines and the increase in divorce and single parenting.
“The five-year decline for white women rivals the 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.” Bingo. That's how I saw it coming. "There's this enormous issue of why." Perhaps the various ways that the richest generations in U.S. history made later generations worse off, from the collapse of the family to diminished earnings in the marketplace, to public policy, has something to do with it. That first factor will vary from family to family, so you’ll see the damage in the most damaged first. Or perhaps the constant stream of advertising conditioning people to always choose what is easier or pleasurable in the short run, even if it hurts in the long run, has had an effect. Homicide is the surest measure of crime, because it is the easiest to measure (a body) and hardest for the authorities to fudge. The same is true of the basic vital statistics as an overall social measure. One might say that every other social measure is merely an explanation.
The generation by generation decline in the wake of Generation Greed is not as obvious in NYC, because the city was at a low point when it began and has since received an influx of many of the best off members of younger generations from elsewhere. Refugees. But even here they will be paid less than similar people were 20, 30 or 40 years ago, and face higher rents. In a great victory for the executive/financial class. And in public service, yet again pensions have been retroactively enhanced for those cashing in and moving out, and wages and benefits are being slashed for new hires. In a great victory for the political/union class.
But almost everyone in younger generations will be affected when they reach old age themselves, if they get there. As I’ve noted, instead of Social Security and Medicare when they are too old to work and their health begins to fail, they’ll be lucky to get medical marijuana followed by legal assisted suicide. And that’s if the Democrats are in – the Republicans might deny them even that.
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