The answer, according to a recent study by Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton, is whites aged 50-54 with a high-school degree or less. In 1999 they had been dying at a rate 30 percent lower than that of that of all blacks in the same age group. But by 2015, their mortality rate was 30 percent higher than that of all blacks in that age group. Between 1998 and 2013, death rates for Hispanics fell as well.
Over this time period there has been a significant increase in deaths from suicides, poisonings, and alcoholic liver disease among whites with lowest levels of educational attainment. This is in contrast to Europe, where people of all educational backgrounds are living longer, which suggests that there’s something unique among middle-aged Americans without a college education that’s making them sicker. The author attribute this difference to the fact that Europe has a social safety net. While middle-aged whites in the United States are left adrift once economic opportunities go away, those in Europe are provided with financial support and health care that make it easier to be satisfied with life.