A new research paper in the Journal of Economic Perspectives digs into our nation’s county-level mortality data and finds that, sure, the trends might not be so hot for 40-50 year-old whites, but let’s look on the bright side: babies are dying less!
Mortality rates for those under one year of age, for the age group 1–4, and for every five-year age group above that level, declined for both males and females between 1990 and 2010.1 Particularly pronounced improvements in mortality occurred at younger ages, which tend to be age groups in which deaths occur predominantly among the poor.
And the future of those non-dead babies is promising!
However, among children, mortality has been falling more quickly in poorer areas with the result that inequality in mortality has fallen substantially over time. This is an important result given the growing literature showing that good health in childhood predicts better health in adulthood (Currie and Rossin-Slater 2015). Hence, today’s children are likely to face considerably less inequality in mortality as they age than current adults.
Do you need a cherry on top of that? Okay!!
We also show that there have been stunning declines in mortality rates for African Americans between 1990 and 2010, especially for black men.
So the next time someone you’re speaking to at a party shakes their head and mutters, “Wow, middle-aged whites are dying faster now,” grab them by their lapels and scream, “But there’s great news for babies and African-American men!” Then turn on your heel and go to a real party.