Middle-Aged White Americans Are Dying at Higher Rates

1 minute read

The death rate for middle-aged white Americans is on the rise, even as it declines for all other races and age groups, as well as for whites in other rich countries.

The change seems to be most prominent among the least-educated white Americans. A new study reveals that the death rate for whites aged 45 to 54 in the U.S. with a high school degree or less rose by 134 deaths per 100,000 people from 1999 to 2014, the New York Times reports. In all, middle-aged whites have a mortality rate of 415 per 100,000.

The data suggests that suicide and drug and alcohol abuse are largely to blame for the increase in deaths.

African-Americans of the same age have a mortality rate of 581 per 100,000 and are narrowing the gap with whites. Middle-aged Hispanic people have a lower death rate of 262 per 100,000.

While the economists behind the study could not say for sure what is driving these deaths, they pointed out that less-educated whites have also seen increases in chronic pain, mental illness and financial instability.


More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com