A study by two economists reveals a rising death rate among less-educated white males, those without a college degree. Abuse of alcohol and opioids may contribute. But a sociologist writing for the New York Times suggests another explanation.
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.
The linked study’s authors compared mortality rates of lesser-educated white males among several countries.
The aforementioned sociologist, Andrew Cherlin, opines that white males contrast their socioeconomic situation with that of their parents, who may have held blue-collar jobs paying family wages. Those jobs, as we know, have all but vanished. Cherlin:
Their main reference group is their parents’ generation, and by that standard they have little to look forward to and a lot to lament.