You may not know Angus Deaton by name, but you probably know a phrase he helped to make famous: “deaths of despair.” In 2015, Deaton and his wife and research partner Anne Case published a paper that revealed something startling: an increase in mortality rates among white middle-aged men and women in the 2000s and 2010s in the United States.
Deaton and Case attributed this to a confluence of factors, including economic stagnation, social isolation and the opioid crisis. In explaining this topic, they did something economists usually avoid doing: They told a sweeping but still complex and nuanced story about American society and economy in the 21st century.
In this conversation, Mark and Angus Deaton discuss Deaton’s new book, as well as its relationship to his work on deaths of despair. They also explore why the field of economics ignored the issue of inequality for so long, and why in the last decade that’s started to change.
This episode was originally broadcast on the Rhodes Center Podcast, another podcast from the Watson Institute. If you want to hear a longer version of this conversation, you can find it by subscribing to the Rhodes Center Podcast or by visiting their website.