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Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism

Anne Case Angus Deaton



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Princeton University Press
26 May 2020
New York Times Bestseller Wall Street Journal Bestseller A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice Longlisted for the Financial Times Business Book of the Year Award 2020 From economist Anne Case and Nobel Prize winner Angus Deaton, a groundbreaking account of how the flaws in capitalism are fatal for America's working class Life expectancy in the United States has recently fallen for three years in a row - a reversal not seen since 1918 or in any other wealthy nation in modern times. In the past two decades, deaths of despair from suicide, drug overdose, and alcoholism have risen dramatically, and now claim hundreds of thousands of American lives each year - and they're still rising.

Anne Case and Angus Deaton, known for first sounding the alarm about deaths of despair, explain the overwhelming surge in these deaths and shed light on the social and economic forces that are making life harder for the working class. They demonstrate why, for those who used to prosper in America, capitalism is no longer delivering.

Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism paints a troubling portrait of the American dream in decline. For the white working class, today's America has become a land of broken families and few prospects. As the college educated become healthier and wealthier, adults without a degree are literally dying from pain and despair. In this critically important book, Case and Deaton tie the crisis to the weakening position of labor, the growing power of corporations, and, above all, to a rapacious healthcare sector that redistributes working class wages into the pockets of the wealthy.

Capitalism, which over two centuries lifted countless people out of poverty, is now destroying the lives of blue collar America. This book charts a way forward, providing solutions that can rein in capitalism's excesses and make it work for everyone.
By:   Anne Case, Angus Deaton
Imprint:   Princeton University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 156mm, 
ISBN:   9780691190785
ISBN 10:   069119078X
Pages:   312
Publication Date:   26 May 2020
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  Primary ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Anne Case is the Alexander Stewart 1886 Professor of Economics and Public Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University. Angus Deaton, winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in economics, is the Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of Economics and International Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University and Presidential Professor of Economics at the University of Southern California. His books include The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality (Princeton). They live in Princeton, New Jersey.

Reviews for Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism

Case and Deaton explain how every detail of this crisis unfolded, examining recent historical events and rightly placing much of the blame on the United States' distinctive strain of capitalism, designed to protect and grow the assets of the wealthy few. ---Keri Leigh Merrit, Common Dreams This highly important book examines the pain and despair among white blue-collar workers and suggests that the hopelessness they are experiencing may eventually extend to the entire American work force. * New York Times Editors' Choice * Although the authors completed this book before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic - it was published four days after President Trump declared a national emergency - their diagnosis is still painfully relevant. ---Carlos Lozada, Washington Post A highly important book. ---Arlie Russell Hochschild, New York Times Book Review Through simple figures and clear prose, it presents a huge bodyof evidence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's WONDER database and other sources that the arc of the white working class's fate over the last two decades is long, but it bends toward nihilism and an early grave. ---Gabriel Rossman, Washington Examiner Simply put, this is a terrific book. I suspect it will be on many people's top 10 book lists of 2020. Although written before COVID-19, the book's critique of the US approach to health care and inequality is remarkably prescient. In many ways, the opioid crisis Case and Deaton analyze is a microcosm of the anguish the world is experiencing today, and we would be remiss not to pay attention to their insights. ---Kenneth Rogoff, Finance & Development Gripping. . . . [Case and Deaton] do not merely rehearse decades of mortality and wage statistics. Rather, they seek to catalogue how an entire way of life first frayed and then fell apart over the past half-century, and the cruelty of an American meritocracy that heaps lavish rewards on the winners while increasingly leaving others to rot. ---Joshua Chaffin, Financial Times I highly, highly recommend it. ---Cardiff Garcia, NPR Planet Money's The Indicator The rise in premature deaths among working-class whites has become a national crisis, and the authors tie the problem to the weakening position of labor, the growing power of corporations, and to a health-care sector that redistributes working-class wages to the wealthy. * Publishers Weekly * [Case and Deaton] dive into and weave the data through different demographic and clinical lenses - race, gender, age, social connectedness, work history, and the most important through-line: education. Thus Case and Deaton connect the dots, literally, in the many charts that explain what factors are driving the Deaths of Despair. ---Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, Health Populi Blog Disturbing. . . . . Case and Deaton do a great job making the case that something has gone grievously wrong. ---Jim Zarroli, NPR A must-read for anyone attempting to objectively understand our collective American pain as well as those gaining from it. ---Rahul Gupta, Democracy The system is broken and every bit of it needs fixing. This is a sobering - and essential - book. ---Diane Coyle, Enlightened Economist Complementing their candid prose with enlightening charts and graphs, Case and Deaton make the scale and immediacy of the problem crystal clear. This is an essential portrait of America in crisis. * Publishers Weekly * A remarkable new book. ---John Harris, The Guardian An excellent book. ---Nicholas Kristof, New York Times Well-researched, compassionate. ---Susan Babbitt, New York Journal of Books Timely and important. ---Ed Balls, Financial Times We Americans are reluctant to acknowledge that our economy serves the educated classes and penalizes the rest. But that's exactly the situation, and Deaths of Despair shows how the immiseration of the less educated has resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, even as the economy has thrived and the stock market has soared. ---Atul Gawande, New Yorker [A] remarkable and poignant book. ---Dani Rodrik, Project Syndicate Important. ---Michael Tomasky, Democracy Why economics really matters is illustrated in Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism. . . . The authors argue that the capitalism that lifted countless people out of poverty is now destroying blue-collar America. They have solutions to make it work for all. They had better be right. * New Scientist * One of the Financial Times Selected Titles for 2020 Visions: The Year Ahead in Books Elaborately explained and well-presented. . . . Case and Deaton's well-written and gloomy book was meant as a warning. Relentlessly fighting an infectious disease, the U.S. government seems to have treated it as a handbook. ---Joakim Book, American Institute for Economic Research A Wall Street Journal Bestseller Excellent. * Joyce Carol Oates on Twitter * One of Next Big Idea Club's Most Anticipated Nonfiction Books of Spring A New York Times Editors' Choice The policies that the authors advocate not only would address deaths of despair, they would improve the health and welfare of the American people more generally. ---David Canning, Science One of New Statesman's Books to Read in 2020 Anne Case and Angus Deaton are senior economists at Princeton with expertise in public health and poverty, respectively. The combination, plus clear writing and ample doses of caution and open-mindedness, makes Deaths of Despair a compelling book. ---Edward Hadas, Reuters BreakingViews A New York Times Bestseller [a] hard-hitting study of US capitalism. ---Andrew Robinson, Nature Deaths of Despair is designed to shine a light on a generational catastrophe that could-perhaps will-become a multigenerational disaster. It does this with chilling precision. ---Mike Jakeman, Strategy+Business

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