April 05, 2017

Causes of White Despair

It's sort of like the chicken or the egg--whether "white despair" was first triggered by economic issues or a spiritual malaise.

Not surprisingly this WaPo article points higher rates of white mortality to economic causes: "In their latest paper, Case and Deaton highlight a host of 'social dysfunctions' that are on the rise in white communities, including 'the decline of marriage, social isolation, and detachment from the labor force.' They believe that all of these problems may share an underlying cause: The economic forces which made life much harder for those without a college degree in recent decades."

Certainly work is a generator not just of wealth but of dignity.  As Pope Francis said:
"We get dignity from work..Work is fundamental to the dignity of the person. Work, to use an image, 'anoints' with dignity, fills us with dignity, makes us similar to God who has worked and still works, who always acts."
But what's interesting from the graphs below is how it shows the deep white mood crash came around 1998.  Just before the economy slowed (click to enlarge):

Meanwhile the decline in church attendance crashed in '99-'00, also before the '01 recession:

So it's difficult to say that all of this was caused simply by the economy.

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