Independent researchers have used a variety of data sources and
methodologies to document two disturbing trends in recent decades (1-5): a halt to universal gains in life expectancy (LE) across US subpopulations, and a subsequent rise in educational and income inequality in LE. What causes these inequitable effects? The timing of growing LE inequities suggests that the long-term stagnating or deteriorating economic prospects of moderate income households in light of jobs lost to globalization and automation may play an important role. In the aggregate, incomes for large segments of the US population have stagnated at least since 1980 (e.g. 6-7), while the probability that children will do better economically than their parents has been falling (8,9). These patterns are concentrated in parts of the country hit hardest by globalization and automation. Most studies of growing LE inequities analyze national samples and have not assessed causal links between growing LE inequities and exogenous economic trends, a central goal of an interdisciplinary NIA funded project John Bound and I expect to focus on as RSF Visiting Scholars. We are leveraging this geographic variation to study the cumulative effect of persistent and structural economic distress on mortality and growing educational inequities in LE.