A theory that older folks are no longer seeing more pay in exchange for their professional experience, leading to dissatisfaction, nostalgia–and votes for the far right

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A coda to this piece.

The return to experience is a way to describe what you get in return for aging. It describes the increase in wages that workers normally see throughout their careers….

…“This decline in the return to experience closely matches the decline in attachment to the labor force,” Case and Deaton wrote. “Our data are consistent with a model in which the decline in real wages led to a reduction in labor force participation, with cascading effects on marriage, health, and mortality from deaths of despair.”…

…If returns to experience are in decline, if wisdom no longer pays off, then that might help suggest why a group of mostly older people who are not, as a group, disadvantaged might become convinced that the country has taken a turn for the worse.

pub. 04/2017

Death by disappointment: The complex despair of working-class whites

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[T]he authors surmise that because it’s no longer possible for this demographic to improve their fortunes with a blue collar job, the disappearance of that steady employment has caused despair to rise over time….

…Distress and the “the failure of life to turn out as expected” frequently leads to alcohol and drug abuse, the researchers write. They also suggest that people also may try to compensate for this distress by overeating, which could lead to obesity and a rise in related chronic disease.

pub. 03/2017

Update 04/2017: The researchers have come up with a new theory.

Blue-collar Americans want into the system of “white socialism” offered by employers, not the government

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When Democrats respond to job losses with an offer to expand the public safety net, blue collar voters cringe and rebel. They are not remotely interested in sharing the public social safety net experienced by minority groups and the poorest white families. Meanwhile well-employed and affluent voters, ensconced in their system of white socialism, leverage all the power at their disposal to block any dilution of their expensive public welfare benefits. Something has to break.

pub. 03/2017

Single-payer is the way to increase health care coverage and decrease costs

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The economic case for single-payer reform is compelling. Private insurers’ overhead currently averages 12.4% versus 2.2% in traditional Medicare. Reducing overhead to Medicare’s level would save approximately $220 billion this year. Single-payer reform could also sharply reduce billing and paperwork costs for physicians, hospitals, and other providers…
 …All told, we estimate that single-payer reform could save approximately $504 billion annually on bureaucracy.
pub. 02/2017