Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism

By Anne Case, Angus Deaton,

Book cover of Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism

Book description

A New York Times Bestseller
A Wall Street Journal Bestseller
A New York Times Notable Book of 2020
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
Shortlisted for the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year
A New Statesman Book to Read

From economist Anne Case and Nobel…

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Why read it?

4 authors picked Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Life expectancy among the working-class population in the United States was decreasing at an astounding rate well before the Covid-19 pandemic. While I was aware of growing inequality and decreasing access to health care for many, I didn’t realize how desperate the conditions of life seemed for many working-class Americans.

This book forced me to confront the uncomfortable reality of the health crisis among the many blue-collar workers living in the heartland of America.  

From Troy's list on connecting poor health and poverty.

This is a sobering account of what has happened to far too many blue-collar, non-college-educated workers in America.

Wracked with economic uncertainty, shunted aside, feeling left out and powerless, many have turned to alcohol, drugs, and suicide. The greed of the opioid industry—the doctors, the pharmacies, the corporate pushers—has led to an extraordinary increase in deaths among white blue-collar workers.
For working men and women, once the backbone of American economic vibrancy, capitalism, and globalization has not worked, but has crushed families and prospects for a better life.

A powerful indictment, but one we need to hear and comprehend.

Case and Deaton tell an extremely sobering story about the recent decline in life expectancy in the United States.

It is a story about the crumbling foundation of what has traditionally been considered a meaningful life: the comfort of belonging to an organized religion, a stable marriage and family, a successful working career and home ownership.

In their place, the new reality is often one of low wages, failed personal relationships, erratic work patterns, pain, addiction to alcohol and drugs, and incidents of ultimate despair—suicide.

The underlying causes of this social transformation include technical changes in how we do work…

Case and Deaton, Princeton economists (married to each other), explain how economic developments in recent decades, such as the rise of trade and the weakening of unions, have eroded the fabric of our society. Case and Deaton document the devasting impact on people and communities left behind by looking at deaths of despair—those from suicide, overdoses, and alcoholism. If you have the feeling that something is not right with capitalism—or even if you don’t—this is a book that will offer you a detailed look at America’s economic underbelly.

From Charles' list on economics and public policy.

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