October 27, 2017
For the first time since 1980, the U.S. age-adjusted mortality rate rose by more than one percent, meaning American life expectancy is stalling even as workers increasingly delay retirement, according to a new study by the Society of Actuaries. Meanwhile, a Health Affairs study found that middle-age Americans are on average suffering more serious health issues and cognitive decay than ten to fifteen years ago. The implications of these tragic trends are far-reaching. President Trump this week declared the opioid crisis, commonly considered a major cause of such trends, to be a nationwide public health emergency. Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, writes in a recent report that the Federal Reserve should take a closer look at the bottom 40 percent of the economy because "the wealth and income skews are so great that average statistics no longer reflect the conditions of the average man." He notes that disparities in death rates, health care, labor, retirement savings, and education vary greatly between the two segments. "Average statistics camouflage what is happening in the economy," he says, "which could lead to dangerous miscalculations, most importantly by policy makers."