Boosters’ ceaseless distortions to ‘accentuate the positive’ – so common across the state and in Whitewater before, during, and after the Great Recession – meet their tragic refutation in life expectancy declines for Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin Public Policy Forum reports on Troubling trends in Wisconsin: Life expectancy down; alcohol, drug and suicide deaths up:
The life expectancy for babies born in Wisconsin from 2015-17 was 80 years, down from 80.1 in 2014-16 and from 80.2 in 2013-15, according to the state Department of Health Services. Though slight, these consecutive decreases buck a longstanding trend and may reflect the deeper impact of several troubling issues facing the state.
Wisconsin residents still continue to have a longer life expectancy than the national average. While precise comparison is not possible due to methodological differences, national life expectancy in 2017 was 78.6 years. Yet mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control show Wisconsin losing ground in some areas, including deaths due to alcohol and increased mortality rates among black residents and people in their 20s and 30s.
Our research did not evaluate if the state life expectancy decline is statistically significant, as that is not calculated by the Department of Health Services. But it is clear that the national life expectancy downturn is something not seen in a century. The last such occurrence was from 1915-18, when U.S. life expectancy briefly declined during a period that included World War I and a global influenza epidemic.
Today’s decline comes amid a new epidemic: deaths from overdoses of opioid drugs. CDC experts say overdoses and rising suicide deaths have driven the national decrease in life expectancy, with an increase in alcohol-related deaths also playing a role. These changes have happened at the same time other trends, such as declining rates of death from heart disease or stroke, enabled some to live longer and caused overall mortality rates among older Americans to decline.
In Wisconsin and nationally, the rate of death due to suicide, drugs, or alcohol has increased steadily since 1999. Drug and alcohol death rates in Wisconsin have more than tripled in that span. Total drug and alcohol deaths increased from 593 in 1999 to 1,985 in 2017, the most recent year for which data are available. The rate of increase in such deaths also accelerated the last few years.
Note well: There are stated limits to this statewide study, as properly-presented research acknowledges its own limitations. (In this case and others, there is a profound difference with public officials’ and residents’ use of sham studies as marketing tools. That will prove a subject of consideration all its own.)
For those in Whitewater and other small towns who doubt what they own eyes – if open – would reveal, see more generally The rural America death spiral (‘Many of the nation’s current pathologies are taking a heavy toll on the majority-white population living in rural America, which was severely impacted by the opioid crisis and has dealt with falling populations, job losses and rising suicide rates.’)
See also A Candid Admission from the Whitewater CDA, Reported Family Poverty in Whitewater Increased Over the Last Decade, ‘Crony Capitalism and Social Engineering: The Case Against Tax-Increment Financing,’ and Three Fundamental Failures: Employment, Income, and Poverty.