Journal Article

Interview: Angus Deaton

Abstract: When Angus Deaton was an undergraduate in mathematics at the University of Cambridge, he found that the other students were better and more serious mathematicians than he was. He found his attention wandering from his math studies. He later recalled that his advisor, concerned by his lack of focus, finally told him to "take up what they clearly thought of as a last resort for ne'er-do-wells, a previously unconsidered option called economics." Roughly a half century later, in 2015, Deaton was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences — recognized, in the words of the committee, "for his analysis of consumption, poverty, and welfare." Yet in some respects, the work leading to his Nobel Prize was but an opening act: Within a few weeks of the announcement of the award, he would release news-making research that uncovered a disturbing trend in U.S. mortality. He and economist Anne Case, his wife and Princeton colleague, found that the death rate of White middle-aged Americans, unlike those of other demographic groups in America, had been rising. Case and Deaton attributed the trend to "deaths of despair" — that is, deaths from suicide, drug overdoses, and alcohol.

Keywords: Angus Deaton; Nobel Prize; Mortality - United States; Deaths of despair;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond

Part of Series: Econ Focus

Publication Date: 2023-12

Volume: 23

Issue: 4Q

Pages: 18-22