I apparently just missed the opportunity to speak to a reporter from Los Angeles Public Radio. It must be a slow news day because the LA Public radio was going to do a story on a New York Times article written about a Health Affairs article published a month ago which I promptly looked up. The article did not specifically deal with my geographic region nor the calamities typically associated with the Gulf Coast (hurricanes, oil spills and the like) it does deal with disparities and offers an interesting problem and a thought provoking analysis. The dilemma is reduction in the rate of rise in life expectancy after infancy of non-white folk and an apparent drop in life expectancy of folks who happen to be white and happen to have less than a high school diploma to show for their educational efforts. Not a reduction in the rate of rise but a DECREASE. As they point out:

In other words, along the educational and socioeconomic status gradient, those at the top are gaining modest amounts of longevity, but whites at the bottom are losing ground at a faster pace— that is, they are either experiencing a decline in life expectancy or a slower rate of increase relative to those at the top.

Why are we not doing as well as we have in the past? Education itself can’t account for it. The authors speculate:

One possible mechanism is the documented accumulated lifelong stress associated with disadvantage and the accelerated attributes of biological aging that accompany it, such as genetic damage that occurs at a more rapid pace for disadvantaged populations.

They also point out that:

Education exerts its direct beneficial effects on health through the adoption of healthier lifestyles, better ability to cope with stress, and more effective management of chronic diseases. However, the indirect effects of education through access to more privileged social position, better-paying jobs, and higher income are also profound.

Given our attitudes towards education in the South, maybe that is why they wanted a comment. Glad I was busy.

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