There is a new piece in the American Journal of Public Health that does a meta analysis of the “social causes” of death: poverty (individual and area), segregation, low levels of education, and inequality. The results shouldn’t surprise. In 2000 approximately 245,000 deaths in the United States in the year 2000 were attributable to low levels of education, 176,000 to racial segregation, 162,000 to low social support, 133,000 to individual-level poverty, 119,000 to income inequality, and 39,000 to area-level poverty. As reported elsewhere, “For example, the number of deaths the researchers calculated as attributable to low education (245,000) is comparable to the number caused by heart attacks (192,898), which was the leading cause of U.S. deaths in 2000. The number of deaths attributable to racial segregation (176,000) is comparable to the number from cerebrovascular disease (167,661), the third leading cause of death in 2000, and the number attributable to low social support (162,000) compares to deaths from lung cancer (155,521).” I have some questions about the study. And I wonder about whether “social” and “physiological/behavioral” causes can be treated as analytically distinct (the conclusion claims, “The estimated number of deaths attributable to social factors in the United States is comparable to the number attributed to pathophysiological and behavioral cause”). Still, the study is worth checking out.
The article is: Sandro Galea, Melissa Tracy, Katherine J. Hoggatt, Charles DiMaggio, Adam Karpati. Estimated Deaths Attributable to Social Factors in the United States. American Journal of Public Health, 2011. Linked above.