Study: White Death Rates Steadily Rising, Falling Sharply for Blacks

Is white privilege to blame?

A study released in 2015 by economists discovered that death rates among whites have risen steadily over the last 14 years but have fallen sharply for blacks and Hispanics in the same time period. The New York Times has investigated these findings, along with its own, and suggests that perhaps white privilege has something to do with it.

"It's disturbing and puzzling news," writes Andrew J. Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University. "Death rates are rising for white, less-educated Americans."

According to two economists who have been looking at death trends since 1999, the rates have been steadily climbing for whom they've termed "non-Hispanic whites" between the ages of 45 to 54; with the sharpest rise occurring for those with little education. In its own analysis, the NYT noticed the same pattern and found that "the rise may extend to white women," as well.

"In contrast," Cherlin continues, "death rates fell overall for blacks and Hispanics."

The rise in death rates among whites are attributed to an increase in drug overdoses, alcohol abuse, and suicide. And while most blame growing addictions to opioid prescriptions and greater pessimism over finances for whites, Cherlin believes there may be something else at play in the differences between the rates of death: how each compares themselves to other groups:

It’s likely that many non-college-educated whites are comparing themselves to a generation that had more opportunities than they have, whereas many blacks and Hispanics are comparing themselves to a generation that had fewer opportunities.

When whites without college degrees look back, they can often remember fathers who were sustained by the booming industrial economy of postwar America. Since then, however, the industrial job market has slowed significantly...

African-Americans, however, didn’t get a fair share of the blue-collar prosperity of the postwar period. They may look back to a time when discrimination deprived their parents of equal opportunities. Many Hispanics may look back to the lower standard of living their parents experienced in their countries of origin.

What Cherlin seems to be suggesting is that whites are less optimistic now because the economy has made finding jobs and sustaining a family more difficult than it was for their fathers. In addition, white workers have "historically compared themselves to black workers" and taken "comfort in seeing a group that was doing worse than them." Some today call this white privilege.

But no matter what separates facts from fiction, the voices of the "Black Lives Matter" movement shout loudly and the mainstream media scarcely tread into territory that would upset the pervasive narrative. And with that, another story emphasizing how all lives matter is relegated to the back of the line.