Income inequality

Divided by Degrees: Angus Deaton on how More Americans Without B.A.’s are Dying of Despair


July 30, 2020

Nobel laureate, Angus Deaton says middle-aged Americans without a bachelor's degree face grimmer prospects and are more likely to die of despair. (Dominick Reuter/Reuters/Newscom)

In This Episode

After a century-long decline, mortality rates in the U.S. have flattened- even increased for non-Hispanic whites in middle age. In this podcast, Nobel laureate, Angus Deaton describes how people are dying at an alarming rate from suicides, drug overdoses and alcohol-related diseases, and how the largest increases in mortality are happening among those without a bachelor's degree. In their latest book titled Deaths of Despair, Deaton and Princeton economist Anne Case look at how approaches to healthcare and inequality relate to the rising mortality rates. Professor Deaton was invited by the Institute for Capacity Development to present their research to IMF economists. He joined me afterward to talk about the B.A./non-B.A. divide in the United States.

Read the REVIEW of Deaths of Despair by Kenneth Rogoff.

Read Peter Walker's profile of Angus Deaton in F&D Magazine

Angus Deaton is the Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of Economics and International Affairs, Emeritus, at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and the Economics Department at Princeton University. He is the 2015 recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

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Bruce Edwards

International Monetary Fund

Bruce Edwards produces the IMF podcast program. He's an award-winning audio producer and journalist who's covered armed conflicts, social unrest, and natural disasters from all corners of the world. He believes economists have an important role in solving the world's problems and aspires to showcase their research in every IMF podcast.

Rhoda Metcalfe


Rhoda Metcalfe is an independent journalist and audio producer. Her reporting on the armed conflict in Colombia in the late 90s, as well as her work in Egypt, Turkey and South Africa has won several awards. She now produces podcasts and radio features from Washington DC and is a regular contributor to the IMF Podcast program.