In the NYT, Andrew Cherlin has an op-ed on “Why Are White Death Rates Rising?”
IT’S disturbing and puzzling news: Death rates are rising for white, less-educated Americans. The economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton reported in December that rates have been climbing since 1999 for non-Hispanic whites age 45 to 54, with the largest increase occurring among the least educated. An analysis of death certificates by The New York Times found similar trends and showed that the rise may extend to white women.
Both studies attributed the higher death rates to increases in poisonings and chronic liver disease, which mainly reflect drug overdoses and alcohol abuse, and to suicides. In contrast, death rates fell overall for blacks and Hispanics.
Why are whites overdosing or drinking themselves to death at higher rates than African-Americans and Hispanics in similar circumstances? Some observers have suggested that higher rates of chronic opioid prescriptions could be involved, along with whites’ greater pessimism about their finances.
It’s not the general pessimism borne of the logical telos of the worldwide, anti-white pogrom known as ‘political correctness’ (and/or the ‘Multiculturalism’ model), nor the increasingly creative and brazen, new incarnations of ‘affirmative action’, nor the REALLY long-term arc of where all of this is heading (hint: ‘Death of the West’), something even uneducated white bumpkins can intuit:
Yet I’d like to propose a different answer: what social scientists call reference group theory. The term “reference group” was pioneered by the social psychologist Herbert H. Hyman in 1942, and the theory was developed by the Columbia sociologist Robert K. Merton in the 1950s. It tells us that to comprehend how people think and behave, it’s important to understand the standards to which they compare themselves.
Note: It’s not necessarily a mutually-exclusive choice between the aforementioned pessimism and ‘reference group’ theory. Cherlin continues:
How is your life going? For most of us, the answer to that question means comparing our lives to the lives our parents were able to lead. As children and adolescents, we closely observed our parents. They were our first reference group.
And here is one solution to the death-rate conundrum: It’s likely that many non-college-educated whites are comparing themselves to a generation that had more opportunities than they have, whereas many blacks and Hispanics are comparing themselves to a generation that had fewer opportunities.
The assumption here seems to be of a zero-sum game.
When whites without college degrees look back, they can often remember fathers who were sustained by the booming industrial economy of postwar America. Since then, however, the industrial job market has slowed significantly. The hourly wages of male high school graduates declined by 14 percent from 1973 to 2012, according to analysis of data from the Economic Policy Institute. Although high school educated white women haven’t experienced the same major reversal of the job market, they may look at their husbands — or, if they are single, to the men they choose not to marry — and reason that life was better when they were growing up.
Conspicuously absent from this op-ed is the word ‘immigration’.
African-Americans, however, didn’t get a fair share of the blue-collar prosperity of the postwar period. They may look back to a time when discrimination deprived their parents of equal opportunities. Many Hispanics may look back to the lower standard of living their parents experienced in their countries of origin. Whites are likely to compare themselves to a reference group that leads them to feel worse off. Blacks and Hispanics compare themselves to reference groups that may make them feel better off.
Ah, there’s the rub. The ‘reference group’ and reference point (for Hispanics in America reflecting on their lot) is ‘the lower standard of living their parents experienced in their countries of origin.’
Translation: Their parents are illegals from Mexico, a failed third world state. For this demo, there’s nowhere to go but up!
Si! Se puede!
The sociologist Timothy Nelson and I observed this phenomenon in interviews with high-school-educated young adult men in 2012 and 2013. A 35-year-old white man who did construction jobs said, “It’s much harder for me as a grown man than it was for my father.” He remembered his father saying that back when he was 35, “‘I had a house and I had five kids or four kids.’ You know, ‘Look where I was at.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, Dad, things have changed.’”
The op-ed takes a decisive SJW turn, however, with the following imaginative stretch of empirical data:
But we size ourselves up based on more than just our parents. White workers historically have compared themselves against black workers, taking some comfort in seeing a group that was doing worse than them. Now, however, the decline of racial restrictions in the labor market and the spread of affirmative action have changed that. Non-college-graduate whites in the General Social Survey are more likely to agree that “conditions for black people have improved” than are comparable blacks themselves, 68 percent to 53 percent.
Reference group theory explains why people who have more may feel that they have less. What matters is to whom you are comparing yourself. It’s not that white workers are doing worse than African-Americans or Hispanics.
Keep trying, NYC op-ed types. There’s only so many ways until Sunday that you can avoid the obvious dynamic going on.
Your tropes have jumped the shark.
Sooner or later, white Americans will have figured this out.