UK: ‘Deaths of Despair’ Rising
‘Deaths of despair’ on the rise in UK, according to the Deaton Review. Think-tank report finds alcohol one of the driving factors
The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has announced the launch of a five-year study to understand inequalities ‘that exist not just in income and living standards, but in wealth, health, family environments, life chances and political influence’.
In particular, a 34-page introductory report to the review observed a rise in deaths from suicide, alcohol or drug overdose and alcohol-related liver disease, also dubbed as ‘deaths of despair’. Research suggests that these types of deaths have been steadily on the rise in the United States and are thought to be associated with the increasing disadvantages experienced by the poorest. Worsening job prospects, increasing social isolation and family breakdown may all be to blame for the increase in problems relating to mental health and physical health.
The IFS report suggests that a similar trend is beginning to emerge in the UK. It is thought that a decade on from the financial crisis, these inequalities have become more visible due to the overall squeeze on living standards. For example, alcohol-related liver disease among 45–54-year-olds in England continued to increase between 1993 and 2017. When taking into account the slowdown in the decrease in deaths from cancer and heart disease, they have contributed to an increase in middle-age mortality after decades of uninterrupted improvement.
According to Nobel prize-winning economist Angus Deaton, the UK needs to ‘change the rules’ to evade negative extremes of inequality seen in the US.