The White Man’s Burden: More Drinking, Drugs And Suicides Since 2000 – OpEd


More nonsense has been written about White nationalism/supremacy in the wake of Donald Trump’s election than anyone should have to read. So, it is a pleasure to find some actual data analysis on the role of the non-college educated white citizen in the success of the Trump candidacy, especially versus Mitt Romney’s failed 2012 campaign.

The Economist has determined that health status explains the Trump vote better than being a non-college educated white citizen does. Health status is inversely related to voting for Trump: The sicker you are, the more likely you are to have voted for Trump. Non-college educated whites are also likely to be sicker, so the two variables are not independent. Nevertheless:

Although we could not find a single factor whose explanatory power was greater than that of non-college whites, we did identify a group of them that did so collectively: an index of public-health statistics. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington has compiled county-level data on life expectancy and the prevalence of obesity, diabetes, heavy drinking and regular physical activity (or lack thereof). Together, these variables explain 43% of Mr. Trump’s gains over Mr. Romney, just edging out the 41% accounted for by the share of non-college whites.

(“Illness as an Indicator,” The Economist, November 19, 2016)

Okay, so let’s get this straight: Obamacare was signed in 2010, but it did not provide subsidized benefits until 2014. The people who should have been most grateful for Obamacare rejected it in the 2016 election more than they had in 2012. (Romney also ran against Obamacare.) The Economist column also cited a 2015 paper by Nobel Prize–winning economist Angus Deaton, which shows significant deterioration in health metrics among middle-aged, non-college educated whites since around the turn of the millennium:

Fig. 1 shows a cessation and reversal of the decline in midlife mortality for US white non-Hispanics after 1998. From 1978 to 1998, the mortality rate for US whites aged 45–54 fell by 2% per year on average, which matched the average rate of decline in the six countries shown, and the average over all other industrialized countries. After 1998, other rich countries’ mortality rates continued to decline by 2% a year. In contrast, US white non-Hispanic mortality rose by half a percent a year. No other rich country saw a similar turnaround. The mortality reversal was confined to white non-Hispanics; Hispanic Americans had mortality declines indistinguishable from the British (1.8% per year), and black non-Hispanic mortality for ages 45–54 declined by 2.6% per year over the period.

(Anne Case & Angus Deaton, “Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among white non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 112, no. 49, December 8, 2015, pp. 15078-15083.)

As I noted previously, there has been a significant increase in government dependency for health care since 1997, and that shift from job-based benefits might have had a negative impact on this population. However, the crisis among middle-aged, non-college educated whites is not related directly to the health system. Drinking, drug abuse, and suicides all increased significantly in the past two decades.

Whether President-elect Trump’s plan to “Make America Great Again” will restore the previously positive 20th century trend of mortality improvement for non-college educated whites is a question that will be examined carefully in the years to come.

This article was published at The Beacon

John R. Graham

John R. Graham is Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute and a Senior Fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis. Formerly Vice President at the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed), he previously directed health-policy research at the Pacific Research Institute and the Fraser Institute. In prior positions he served as Assistant Vice President at Kidder, Peabody Securities Company; Associate at Goldman Sachs and Company; Political and Military Analyst for the United Nations Operation in Somalia; Development Consultant for Covenant House Vancouver; and Captain in the Canadian Army. He received his Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in economics and commerce from the Royal Military College of Canada and his M.B.A. from the University of Cologne, Germany. He is also Senior Fellow at the Fraser Institute as well as Adjunct Fellow for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

3 thoughts on “The White Man’s Burden: More Drinking, Drugs And Suicides Since 2000 – OpEd

  • November 27, 2016 at 2:40 am

    Finally, an article pointing to fact not myth. Still truth is beyond this article.
    It was more than uneducated whites. It was educated whites without insurance who also fell. It was whites who work and have insurance through work and who saw the disaster in lives around them from this act.
    One can presuppose that only Clinton got the non-white but that is not true for all we have are the misguided polls and exit-polls of the reality displaced media who got the election so very wrong. They cannot be the bell weather on this election.

  • November 27, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    Lol … I just do not understand why people are looking for ‘explantions’ about the election… If it is more nonsense all is nonsense anyway… And if the numers are right: more or less then 1 million voters more for clinton then for trump… More then 50 electors more for trump … Did anyone checked this ?
    And what about the more or less 95 million people who NOT VOTED? Is this the number of the people who cannot read and write, the people in jails, the sick, the absolute poor, the mothers bound to live only in the kitchen, the people in airplaines, ships, cars travelling outside that time of usa? Usa population: 320 million, people with right to vote: 235 million, number of actual voters: 123 million….

  • November 27, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    Drugs, Booze, Sex and lastly Guns likely drive America into a Sink Hole. The most dangerous are Guns which only Law Enforcement members should have. Read a very notable essay by retired justice of Supreme Court justice Steven pointing out that nothing in Constitution is written on stone. A saner individual who are getting fewer every day would agree easy access to guns causes thousands of deaths. Yet Congress having too many goofy red necks are in denial ‘


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