Fact check: Deaths of despair and “white working class”

The Brookings Papers on Economic Activity published a report about its findings on so-called “deaths of despair”–overdose, suicide, and other sort of high-risk activities taken up by those with an inclination to self harm due to severe depression. This report divided the subjects by their racial demographics and found that it was the “white working class” who was actually dying the most, proportionately, from these deaths of despair. The news followed suit. But I had spotted a sleight of hand shortly after opening the report that made me suspicious of the methodology: White people were divided by whether or not they had attained a high school diploma, yet all other racial demographics were generalized into a single measurement.

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