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Death Rates Increase for Middle-Aged White Americans, Study Reports

Update Date: Nov 03, 2015 09:39 AM EST

The death rate for one particular group of Americans has been increasing over the past few years, according to a new review written by two Princeton economists.

The researchers examined compiled data taken from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other sources, and found that middle-aged men and women were dying at a much higher rate in 2014 than they were in 1999. The researchers noted that the rates were particularly high for those with less than a college education.

The morality rate had increased by half a percent each year during that time frame or 134 deaths per 100,000 from 1999 to 2014. Prior to this trend, the death rate for the group was declining at about an average of two percent per year.

The researchers believe that people in this age group of 45-54 could be dying because of factors such as legal and illegal drugs, which can lead to overdoses, alcohol use and suicide. They also noted that there was an increase in the number of illnesses for this group.

"Half a million people are dead who should not be dead," Angus Deaton, the 2015 Nobel laureate in economics, who co-wrote the review with his wife, Anne Case, said reported by

"This is a deeply concerning trend," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, who heads the CDC but was not a part of the research. "We shouldn't see death rates going up in any group in society."

The death rates for middle-aged blacks and Hispanics continued to fall. However, the mortality rate for middle-age blacks was still the highest out of the three groups at 581 deaths per 100,000. The rates for middle-aged whites and Hispanics were 415 per 100,000 and 262 per 100,000, respectively.

Overall, the death rates for younger and older people of all races and ethnic groups - aside from the middle-aged white group - declined.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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