Trench Of National Bureau Of Economic Research, Anne Case, Angus Deaton discussed on Vox's The Weeds

Vox's The Weeds


Trench of national bureau of economic research papers that this other one came from we have a new joint from anne case and angus deaton. This is the team that has popularized the concept of deaths of despair other newspaper. I don't think breaks a ton of new ground analytically. They sort of repeat their basic finding that. There is a divide based on educational attainment in mortality related to overdoses and suicides. They link this to a rise in subjectively reported pain but in this paper they get very angry. Student has a nobel prize. So i think people make certain ordinances for him that a younger economist would not get. He makes some sweeping claim. Causal claims that he doesn't provide detailed evidence for but then. I think a lot of people agree with him about right so one thinks he says in. Here's for many less educated americans. The economy and society are no longer providing the basis for a good life and he says we examined quote the politics of despair. How less educated people have abandoned and been abandoned by the democratic party so in other words like he's painting a very strong picture here right where it's not people got richer than they used to be so they drive more and they eat more snacks but they're not so rich and so chill that they have time for a lot of cross fit. It's like life has become miserable for working class people in a way. That wasn't true thirty years ago which is forced them into these lives of agonizing pain despair in which again like they didn't like decide to vote republican because disagreed with democrats and immigration. They abandoned have been abandoned by the democratic party and he says while healthier states once voted republican in presidential elections. Now the least healthy states do. It's is very big sort of macro political feces. That i feel like. I don't know i feel like a lot of people sympathize with including people on both the right and the last for different reasons because it paints a sort of populist tableau of certain things but i don't really think that it's right. I mean like incomes for working class. Americans are not lower than they were in the past the big growth in inequality happened in the eighties and economic inequality it hasn't reversed since then But it hasn't exploded during this period of of divergence. I i mean i guess my feeling looking. At the international comparisons is the explosion of the opioid epidemic is really about drug policy in the united states that there lots of countries that have you know deindustrialization to one degree or another and it has not like automatically caused people in northern france to become hooked on painkillers. And then when the painkiller supply is cut off to switch defend. No you know like the economic trends are global. I mean come on the you. Know more about destruct situation than i do but like am i off base here or is this more specifically like drugs related issue. No i think you're right and in fact there has been some research on the steps of despair question before and when you look at where opioid overdose deaths. Were drug overdose. Deaths in general were hit hardest. The economy does like bunch of economic variables like from income inequality to just general prosperity. General poverty rates do not seem to correlate very well with drug overdose deaths within the us. What does correlate is. How many painkillers flowing to these places at least early on during the crisis since we've changed since the us changed defend. No more instead of painkillers for strug fix the. The stuff has changed but in general. Yeah it doesn't really seem to be that it's like the economy driving this lake. I've actually talked case indeed in about this before and the way they described as like. Oh yes sure. We're just saying that the economy like adds fuel to the fire. And like sodas extra supply painkillers and so do other variables and so on and so on. But honestly i've looked at this more. And more i just don't really buy this debts of despair connection and in general. I mean over the last year with kobe you saw this decoupling of suicides and drug overdose deaths like drug overdose. Deaths continue to rise quickly quickly in the us but suicide said not which i think surprised. A lot of people are expected mental health issues which shoot up well especially. We can still didn't self reported depression increase as predicted but suicides do not. Yeah at least at first the the thing is that seem to level off over time mystical kind of got accustomed to being locked down in all of that and when you look at that it's like okay like at the very least you should be ask yourself. Maybe there are different things driving these translate. They can't be connected and it's just really complicated the picture and look especially when you're looking at the. Us europe gap like obesity is a big part of that and like just because of all the heart issues that causes and all the other health issues that causes and that's not part of the deaths of despair narrative the desktop despair narrative is alcohol drugs and suicide and all these things are bad but like alcohol are not higher in the us and they aren't certain parts of europe like their alcohol. Deaths are big problem. In certain parts of europe drug overdose deaths are higher but again they might not be driven by the economy so much. Just like poor regulation leading to a flood of painkillers across the country and then suicides like yes. It's a big problem and they definitely have increased over the past few decades. But they don't really seem to be tied on what happened in the covert pandemic to all these other issues. So i don't know. I think like the desa despair narrative. It's nice to us like as a quick description of these different types of deaths were talking about but i've become increasingly skeptical. That can really explain anything useful as we look at. Life expectancy in the us. Yeah and i think that the debts despair thing is specifically interesting when you think about it in terms of supply rather than like are people just despairing because it actually tracks with other things that we already think about regarding why americans mortality as higher like it's not that american drivers necessarily just like worse like we have higher speed limits and we don't have other options of people are crashing more of for people to take other kinds of public transportation relative to other european cities. You know we see higher. Murder rates not because americans are uniquely a bunch more violent than our european counterparts. It's that we have a lot of guns available and so like those confrontations can turn deadly a lot easier in the united states and so like thinking about that in terms of the death. Despair thing i mean. It's not as catchy to say it's like debts of supply but like that's like feels much more like a reasonable interpretation of the data. Especially when i was. I was thinking about this earlier this year. When casey mulligan who was trump's council economic advisers he put out this paper that showed that desa despair were higher than cova deaths like very early in the pandemic and like this is not something that out but what i ended up looking into is that you know one of the big reasons that people were seeing an increase in drug overdoses in particular..

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