Capitalism kills babies, middle-aged people, and other living things

Posted: 1 March 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

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While mainstream economists continue to discuss and debate their favorite topics—when to hike interest rates, the appropriate measure of capital, how to apply monetary rules, the outcome of debt negotiations in Europe, and much else—they never mention one obvious fact: capitalism kills. In particular, it kills babies and middle-aged people.

According to Alice Chen, Emily Oster, and Heidi Williams [pdf], capitalism kills babies. The United States, for example, ranks fifty-first in the world in infant mortality—comparable to Croatia, despite an almost three-fold difference in income per capita. But, as it turns out, it’s not differences at birth that explain the low ranking of the United States; it’s the high rate of postneonatal deaths. And that high rate (e.g., in comparison to Finland and Austria in the authors’ study) is “due entirely, or almost entirely, to high mortality among less advantaged groups. Well-off individuals in all three countries have similar infant mortality rates.” In other words, the high level of infant deaths in the United States are almost entirely a consequence of the grotesque levels of economic inequality that capitalism has created within the United States.

We also have to admit that capitalism kills middle-aged people. In a study recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Katherine A. Hempstead and Julie A. Phillips found that suicide rates among middle-aged men and women in the United States have been increasing since 1999, with a sharp escalation since 2007. Their conclusion is that

Relative to other age groups, a larger and increasing proportion of middle-aged suicides have circumstances associated with job, financial, or legal distress and are completed using suffocation. The sharpest increase in external circumstances appears to be temporally related to the worst years of the Great Recession, consistent with other work showing a link between deteriorating economic conditions and suicide.

What’s the old adage, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? Well, in this case, preventing neonatal deaths and middle-aged suicides should start with eliminating capitalism.

Comments
  1. BRF says:

    If a society does not define a minimum standard of living then there is no minimum.

  2. Oleg Komlik says:

    Inequality is a socio-cultural order which reduces our capabilities to function as human beings, our health, our dignity, our sense of self, as well as our resources to act and participate in the world— argues Göran Therborn (University of Cambridge) in his new book The Killing Fields of Inequality. The book shows that inequality is literally a killing field, with millions of people dying premature deaths because of it. Therborn shows how devastating are his three types of inequality (vital, existential and resource) and their mechanisms of reproduction (distanciation, exclusion and exploitation). The lethal effects of inequality operate not only in the poor world, but also, and increasingly, in rich countries. See more:
    http://economicsociology.org/2014/09/09/inequality-is-not-just-about-money-inequality-is-literally-a-killing-field/

  3. […] in differences in life expectancy between those at the top and everyone else, high levels of infant mortality, a spectacular growth in the rate of incarceration, and increasing indebtedness (especially for […]

  4. […] in differences in life expectancy between those at the top and everyone else, high levels of infant mortality, a spectacular growth in the rate of incarceration, and increasing indebtedness (especially for […]

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