Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism

Anne Case (Author) Angus Deaton (Author)


New York Times Bestseller
Wall Street Journal Bestseller
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
Longlisted for the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year

From economist Anne Case and Nobel Prize winner Angus Deaton, a groundbreaking account of how the flaws in capitalism are fatal for America's working class

Life expectancy in the United States has recently fallen for three years in a row--a reversal not seen since 1918 or in any other wealthy nation in modern times. In the past two decades, deaths of despair from suicide, drug overdose, and alcoholism have risen dramatically, and now claim hundreds of thousands of American lives each year--and they're still rising. Anne Case and Angus Deaton, known for first sounding the alarm about deaths of despair, explain the overwhelming surge in these deaths and shed light on the social and economic forces that are making life harder for the working class. They demonstrate why, for those who used to prosper in America, capitalism is no longer delivering.

Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism paints a troubling portrait of the American dream in decline. For the white working class, today's America has become a land of broken families and few prospects. As the college educated become healthier and wealthier, adults without a degree are literally dying from pain and despair. In this critically important book, Case and Deaton tie the crisis to the weakening position of labor, the growing power of corporations, and, above all, to a rapacious health-care sector that redistributes working-class wages into the pockets of the wealthy. Capitalism, which over two centuries lifted countless people out of poverty, is now destroying the lives of blue-collar America.

This book charts a way forward, providing solutions that can rein in capitalism's excesses and make it work for everyone.

Product Details

$27.95  $25.71
Princeton University Press
Publish Date
March 17, 2020
6.5 X 1.3 X 9.4 inches | 1.55 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Anne Case is the Alexander Stewart 1886 Professor of Economics and Public Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University. Angus Deaton, winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in economics, is the Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of Economics and International Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University and Presidential Professor of Economics at the University of Southern California. His books include The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality (Princeton). They live in Princeton, New Jersey


A New York Times Bestseller
One of New Statesman's Books to Read in 2020
The policies that the authors advocate not only would address deaths of despair, they would improve the health and welfare of the American people more generally.---David Canning, Science
Excellent.-- "Joyce Carol Oates on Twitter"
A Wall Street Journal Bestseller-- "Joyce Carol Oates on Twitter"
One of the Financial Times Selected Titles for 2020 Visions: The Year Ahead in Books-- "Joyce Carol Oates on Twitter"
Why economics really matters is illustrated in Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism. . . . The authors argue that the capitalism that lifted countless people out of poverty is now destroying blue-collar America. They have solutions to make it work for all. They had better be right.-- "New Scientist"
[A] remarkable and poignant book.---Dani Rodrik, Project Syndicate-- "New Scientist"
We Americans are reluctant to acknowledge that our economy serves the educated classes and penalizes the rest. But that's exactly the situation, and Deaths of Despair shows how the immiseration of the less educated has resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, even as the economy has thrived and the stock market has soared.---Atul Gawande, New Yorker-- "New Scientist"
Timely and important.---Ed Balls, Financial Times-- "New Scientist"
Well-researched, compassionate.---Susan Babbitt, New York Journal of Books-- "New Scientist"
An excellent book.---Nicholas Kristof, New York Times-- "New Scientist"
A remarkable new book.---John Harris, The Guardian-- "New Scientist"
Complementing their candid prose with enlightening charts and graphs, Case and Deaton make the scale and immediacy of the problem crystal clear. This is an essential portrait of America in crisis.-- "Publishers Weekly"
The system is broken and every bit of it needs fixing. This is a sobering - and essential - book.---Diane Coyle, Enlightened Economist-- "Publishers Weekly"
Disturbing. . . . . Case and Deaton do a great job making the case that something has gone grievously wrong.---Jim Zarroli, NPR-- "Publishers Weekly"
[Case and Deaton] dive into and weave the data through different demographic and clinical lenses -- race, gender, age, social connectedness, work history, and the most important through-line: education. Thus Case and Deaton connect the dots, literally, in the many charts that explain what factors are driving the Deaths of Despair.---Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, Health Populi Blog-- "Publishers Weekly"
The rise in premature deaths among working-class whites has become a national crisis, and the authors tie the problem to the weakening position of labor, the growing power of corporations, and to a health-care sector that redistributes working-class wages to the wealthy.-- "Publishers Weekly"
I highly, highly recommend it.---Cardiff Garcia, NPR Planet Money's The Indicator-- "Publishers Weekly"
Gripping. . . . [Case and Deaton] do not merely rehearse decades of mortality and wage statistics. Rather, they seek to catalogue how an entire way of life first frayed and then fell apart over the past half-century, and the cruelty of an American meritocracy that heaps lavish rewards on the winners while increasingly leaving others to rot.---Joshua Chaffin, Financial Times-- "Publishers Weekly"
A highly important book.---Arlie Russell Hochschild, New York Times Book Review-- "Publishers Weekly"
Case and Deaton explain how every detail of this crisis unfolded, examining recent historical events and rightly placing much of the blame on the United States' distinctive strain of capitalism, designed to protect and grow the assets of the wealthy few.---Keri Leigh Merrit, Common Dreams-- "Publishers Weekly"
Deaths of Despair is designed to shine a light on a generational catastrophe that could--perhaps will--become a multigenerational disaster. It does this with chilling precision.---Mike Jakeman, Strategy+Business
[a] hard-hitting study of US capitalism.---Andrew Robinson, Nature
One of Next Big Idea Club's Most Anticipated Nonfiction Books of Spring
Through simple figures and clear prose, it presents a huge bodyof evidence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's WONDER database and other sources that the arc of the white working class's fate over the last two decades is long, but it bends toward nihilism and an early grave.---Gabriel Rossman, Washington Examiner-- "Publishers Weekly"
Elaborately explained and well-presented. . . . Case and Deaton's well-written and gloomy book was meant as a warning. Relentlessly fighting an infectious disease, the U.S. government seems to have treated it as a handbook.---Joakim Book, American Institute for Economic Research-- "Joyce Carol Oates on Twitter"