We think strong cultural and community ties and a tradition of overcoming adversity are one reason [Black and Hispanic] communities are resilient. If you’re focusing on how much better other people are doing than you, it’s pretty hard to overcome adversity.
While [cancer and heart disease] can be differentiated from deaths of despair, the underlying cause—the reality of the economic situation for a large segment of the nation’s population—is the same for many who engage in this behavior. In addition to being more likely to abuse opioids, they are more likely to smoke, and to become obese, two of the most common causes of premature death.
Markers of well and ill-being, ranging from life satisfaction to stress, are more unequally shared across the rich and the poor in the U.S. than they are in Latin America, a region long known for high levels of inequality.
U.S. inequality is largely explained by the top of the income distribution pulling away from the rest—the rich getting richer. At the same time, incomes for lower and middle class Americans have stalled.
This drop in Democratic optimism is almost as large as the 10-percent plummet in national happiness after the 2008 recession. Normally, happiness rarely moves more than a tenth of a point or two over month- or year-long intervals.
Latin American poor are getting out of poverty; the middle class is burgeoning. Investments in education have gone up, and remarkably, inequality has gone down at a time in the U.S. when not only inequality of income distribution has gone way up, but inequality of opportunity has also gone up.