Middle-aged are being driven to ‘deaths of despair’ as loneliness and low earnings lead to a rise in suicides and fatal drug or alcohol abuse
- Middle-aged ‘deaths of despair’ have been rising in the US for a decade
- There are signs of the pattern emerging in the UK according to a new report
- Social isolation and relationship breakdown take their toll on physical health
The middle-aged are increasingly likely to die ‘deaths of despair’ as a result of low earnings, loneliness and family breakdown, a report said yesterday.
Such deaths – from suicide and drug and alcohol abuse – have been rising in the US for a decade but there are signs of the pattern emerging in the UK, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said.
‘Deteriorating job prospects, social isolation and relationship breakdown may slowly be taking their toll on people’s mental and physical health,’ the think-tank added.
Deaths from suicide and drug and alcohol abuse have been rising in the US for a decade but there are signs of the pattern emerging in the UK
It said overall death rates are rising among the middle-aged for the first time in decades, despite a decline in deaths from cancer and heart disease.
The warning over ‘deaths of despair’ came in a preliminary report as the IFS launched a review of the health gap between the rich and poor, to be headed by Nobel Prize-winning economist Sir Angus Deaton.
The report said research in the US suggests ‘deaths of despair… may be linked to a process of cumulative disadvantage for less-educated people’.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies has launched a review of the health gap between the rich and poor, to be headed by Nobel Prize-winning economist Sir Angus Deaton (pictured)
It added: ‘Deaths of despair have been rising in the UK too, though on a much smaller scale than in the US.’
The IFS said its analysis of official figures shows deaths among middle-aged men – those between 45 and 54 – began to rise in 2011, and among women in the same age group slightly later.
Analysis by the Office for National Statistics in 2017 – the latest available – showed the highest rate of suicides was among men aged between 45 and 59, with around 25 deaths per 100,000 in the population.
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