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[I had just posted a response that went a little further in wondering out loud if it’s something in the food, since Hispanics often don’t eat all the same things (or as much, at least) that Americans of European descent eat. Then I found the following, and decided to entirely replace what I’d originally posted.]

This is a very interesting comment to the article linked in my original post on the topic (the one containing the chart). The person making the comment below found the original article (or at least the abstract). I’m reproducing it for interest. Very thought provoking, at minimum.

The source: http://www.pnas.org/content/112/49/15078.abstract

From the abstract:

“…This increase for whites was largely accounted for by increasing death rates from drug and alcohol poisonings, suicide, and chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis. Although all education groups saw increases in mortality from suicide and poisonings, and an overall increase in external cause mortality, those with less education saw the most marked increases…”

Source: PNAS.org Anne Case and Angus Deaton, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and Department of Economics, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544

Looks to me like poor lifestyle choices are responsible for the increase in mortality primarily due to chronic drug and alcohol abuse. An interesting question to answer would be what incentive do non-Hispanic whites in their peak earning years have to engage in this behavior that’s apparently absent in peer cohorts. Drugs and alcohol are expensive so perhaps the higher price discourages chronic use by other groups? No matter the reason this study points toward this being self-inflicted. Liberty includes the freedom to harm oneself so perhaps non-Hispanic whites are more free in the US versus other nations? Or is overindulgence on chemical escapism a rebellious reaction to the wildly successful (*sarcasm) prohibition on drugs? This is a thought-provoking topic worthy of an economics blog.

The main article posted on the PNAS web site also added:

The ratio of black non-Hispanic to white non-Hispanic mortality rates for ages 45–54 fell from 2.09 in 1999 to 1.40 in 2013. CDC reports have highlighted the narrowing of the black−white gap in life expectancy.

The main article (not just the abstract) is VERY interesting, including the death rates for college-educated vs. non-college educated whites. A whole lot of other factors are analyzed as well. But the bottom line is that middle aged whites are dying off at a dramatically faster rate than “should” be happening. But I’ll refrain from any provocative statements about white lives mattering, and all that other right wing domestic terrorist talk. If it was non-whites, such discussion would be headline news and wide open for discussion of course.