I never meant to cause you any sorrow
I never meant to cause you any pain
I only wanted to one time to see you laughing
…in the purple rain
Why Are Gen X men dying at such an alarming rate?
A new study reveals that white, middle-aged men who were between 45 and 54 years during the span of 1999 to 2013, died at an alarming rate. In fact, it’s so alarming, one economist likened the epidemic to a plane that has already crashed. The authors of the study, Angus Deaton and Anne Case compared the tragedy of the AIDS epidemic. They cited suicide, drug overdose, obesity, and psychological distress — all underscored by economic despair — as the main causes.
This study (here’s the PDF) is the worst thing I’ve ever read about Generation X men, although we’re not mentioned by name. The authors define those impacted as being exclusively from the baby boom generation, but in reality, the entire first wave of Generation X has been affected. That includes those white, middle-aged men born between 1961 and 1968 who did not go to college and/or earn a college degree.
Gen X men are dying and they can’t even get credit for it.
How could Deaton and Case fail to properly identify both generations? Note the language from the abstract:
This paper documents a marked increase in the all-cause mortality of middle-aged white non-Hispanic men and women in the United States between 1999 and 2013. This change reversed decades of progress in mortality and was unique to the United States; no other rich country saw a similar turnaround. The midlife mortality reversal was confined to white non-Hispanics; black non-Hispanics and Hispanics at midlife, and those aged 65 and above in every racial and ethnic group, continued to see mortality rates fall.
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.
Rising midlife mortality rates of white non-Hispanics were paralleled by increases in midlife morbidity. Self-reported declines in health, mental health, and ability to conduct activities of daily living, and increases in chronic pain and inability to work, as well as clinically measured deteriorations in liver function, all point to growing distress in this population. We comment on potential economic causes and consequences of this deterioration.
I more or less already knew this. I didn’t have stats to back it up, but I knew Generation X men without college degrees were dying. I saw it with my own eyes.
Let’s do the math on Generation X and this study. If you were middle-aged in 2013 (the last year of the study) you’re Generation X. If you were 54 in 2013 you were born in 1959. As such you may identify less as a Baby Boomer more as a member of Generation Jones. If you were 45 in 2013 you were born in 1968. That’s approaching the mid-wave of Generation X. Thus, people born between 1961 and 1968 were in their data sets.
After reading the six-page paper I correlated Deaton and Case’s findings with all the other things that have devastated Gen-Xers — the 13th Generation of Americans.
- FDA approval of birth control
- The bite abortion took out of Gen X
- High divorce rates of our parents
- Latchkey childhoods
- Ongoing, never-ending Economic Recession
- Decline in Manufacturing Jobs
- Overseas outsourcing
- Death of the Middle Class (also known as CRAP WAGES)
- Loss of the American Dream
- Epidemic of Addiction, Especially Heroin
The modest, though steady decline in church attendance, prayer, and belief in God as documented by Pew Research has also had a devastating impact on Gen-Xers.
Sadly, the Church, the Communion of Saints, failed these men — our brothers and buddies and best friends. Those boys we went to high school with who didn’t go to college and couldn’t find jobs and joined the Army to have something to do. Paroled from broken homes, lackluster high schools, and a shrinking military (after all, there were no manufacturing jobs), they roamed aimlessly through an endless array of side gigs. They lived off women — their mothers and lovers and sisters and friends.
In many ways, they died because they did not have jobs. Mostly, they died because they had lost all hope.
Yea, the plane crashed. It was crashing back in 1977 when their parents divorced and they basically became fatherless. So many, struggling with joblessness and hopelessness, turned to drugs and alcohol to anesthetize the pain. One epidemic wrought another and so it goes on down the line.
If the rate of death for these men had kept pace with 1979-1998 numbers, 500,000 deaths would have been avoided between 1999-2013. There is so much fatherlessness in those numbers. So many broken mothers burying their broken sons.
From 1981 to mid-2015, AIDS claimed the lives of 650,000 Americans. However, Deaton and Case note, “…Public awareness of the enormity of the AIDS crisis was far greater than for the epidemic described here.”
The Spiritual War of Generation X
There’s a famous quote in Fight Club about Generation X having “no great war.” It goes like this:
“Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”
White, middle-aged men — Generation X men — with no college education have been fighting a war all their lives. In fact, the war has been their lives.
Why do you think Gen X men are dying?