Business & Investment

When COVID-19 retreats, death in despair surges again

Princeton, NJ (Project syndicate) — American capitalism doesn’t help most Americans. Educated elites live longer and richer lives, while uneducated Americans (two-thirds of the population) die young and struggle physically, financially and socially. I will.

This widening gap between those with and without a four-year college degree is at the heart of our recent books.Death of despair and the future of capitalism.. The increase in deaths we describe is almost entirely concentrated in people without a bachelor’s degree. Bachelor’s degrees also tend to divide people in terms of employment, compensation, morbidity, marriage, and social respect. These are all the keys to a good life.

These changes in the nature of employment have been going on for many years, but pandemics are accelerating them.

The COVID-19 pandemic is proceeding as well. Many educated professionals can work from home and protect themselves and their salaries, but many in the service and retail industry lose their jobs or are more professional. I am facing a risk. There is no doubt that the overall loss of life and money will be split along the same educational fault line when the final tally is made.

From the same author: The United States is trapped in two simultaneous pandemics that expose an expanding inequality gap

Destructive change

Pandemics are also changing the business environment, favoring large businesses over small businesses and e-business over physical stores. Many large companies, especially Big Tech, employ few workers compared to market valuations and do not offer the good jobs that were once available to the less educated workers of former economic companies. Hmm.

These changes in the nature of employment have been going on for many years, but pandemics are accelerating them. The share of national income from labor has been declining over the long term and will continue to decline. This is reflected in today’s record high stock market. Market bullishness during a pandemic once again shows that this is an indicator of expected future profits (not national income). Stock prices rise as the share of pie workers shrinks.

Some of these trends are reversed, but only for some time, depending on how quickly and widely the recently approved COVID-19 vaccine is administered. What kind of death can the United States expect in 2021?The United States has already recorded more 340,000 dead Total excess mortality is about, including deaths from COVID-19 in 2020, and deaths from COVID-19 not so classified, and deaths from other cases indirectly caused by a pandemic. 1/4 larger..

Moreover, even if the vaccine is widely distributed by mid-2021, pandemic-related deaths could increase by hundreds of thousands in the United States, not to mention additional deaths that could have been prevented by early detection or early treatment. there is. Of other illnesses missed during the pandemic.

In any case, at least we can expect a future in which COVID-19 will recede as the leading cause of death in the United States. The same is not true for death in despair (suicide, accidental drug overdose, alcoholic liver disease). In 2019, it was 164,000, but past “normal” US levels were around 60,000 per year (based on data from the 1980s and early 1990s).

Drug overdose increased in 2019 and increased in 2020 before the pandemic, but predictions of mass suicide during the blockade have not yet been confirmed or predicted in any country.

Slow destruction of working class life

Our past studies have shown how the working class life has been slowly destroyed since 1970, and suicide and other deaths of despair have been tracked down. It is now perfectly plausible that deaths in the United States will increase again as the economic structure changes after the pandemic.

COVID-19 has accelerated economic developments that promise to undermine the lives and livelihoods of poorly educated people over the next few years. The pandemic will eventually be suppressed, but the desperate death epidemic is endless.

For example, cities are likely to undergo radical changes, with many businesses moving from city skyscrapers to suburban skyscrapers. As a result, less commuting means less work on services that maintain the building and provide transportation, security, food, parking, retail, and entertainment. Some of these jobs will work, but others will simply disappear. And while there are entirely new jobs, there is no doubt that there will be a great deal of disruption in people’s lives.

Today’s overdose is primarily due to illegal street drugs (fentanyl and heroin), not from prescription opioids as in recent years, and this particular epidemic will eventually be suppressed. However, drug epidemics tend to follow major episodes of social upheavals and destruction, so we need to prepare for new episodes in the future.

Relation: The Trump administration sues Wal-Mart for its role in fostering the opioid crisis

The US economy has long experienced extensive turmoil due to changes in production technology (especially automation) and, to a lesser extent, globalization.

The inevitable turmoil in employment, especially among the most vulnerable low-educated workers to them, is greatly exacerbated by inadequate social safety nets and ridiculously expensive health care systems. The system is primarily covered by employer-based insurance, which is largely unchanged by income, so it puts the greatest burden on the least skilled people who are priced from a good job.

Washington’s chronic legislative impasse makes it difficult to be optimistic about remedying these problems. But even if there was a time to break the political impasse, it is now.

This commentary has been published with permission Project syndicate— —Live and die in America in 2021..

Ann Case is an emeritus professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University. Angus Deaton, winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 2015, is an emeritus professor of economics and international affairs at the Princeton School of Public International Affairs and a presidential professor of economics at the University of Southern California. They are co-authors of “Death of despair and the future of capitalism(Princeton University Press, 2020).

More challenging insights from Project Syndicate:

COVID-19 casts a long shadow on the economy, so I won’t give a regular grib answer

Can Americans forgive each other when Biden is ready to take office?

Why Wall Street is doing well when Main Street is still closed

When COVID-19 retreats, death in despair surges again When COVID-19 retreats, death in despair surges again

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