Donald Trump and Demographics

It has been pointed out in recent times that the death rate for Non-Hispanic White males and females in the USA is now higher than for the general US population (data above from the recent US National Vital Statistics Report). In fact, in 2013, age-adjusted death rates for Non-Hispanic Whites actually rose (by 0.6, from 876.2 to 876.8 per 100,000 for males, and by 0.8, from 637.6 to 638.4 per 100,000 for females).

A recent article in PNAS shows that this apparently small increase results from a substantial increase in death rates among middle-aged Non-Hispanic White men and women (ages 45-54), and blames an increase in drug and alcohol poisonings and in suicide. The increases in death rate and in poisonings and suicide are particularly pronounced among Non-Hispanic White men and women without a college education. The chart below shows the crude death rates over time for Non-Hispanic White men and women in this age group, but does not reflect the impact of level of education (data from CDC WONDER Online Database):

The NY Times is among those that has run the story, and it has also been pointed out that the increases appear to be greater among women than men, greater in Southern states, and partly due to a reversal of progress against diabetes and other diseases.

This tragic phenomenon seems to be linked to a loss of blue-collar jobs in the USA, and a lack of access to affordable healthcare (which, in the USA, is often linked to employment). The map below shows the overall death rates for Non-Hispanic Whites in this age group by state (data from CDC WONDER Online Database, averaged over 2010–2014):

Jeff Guo at the Washington Post demonstrates that it is this group of people who are voting for Donald Trump. This group seems to feel that both major US political parties have ignored their very real problems. The Guardian describes what some of those problems are. The support for Trump appears to be a case of desperately clutching at straws, but will presumably continue until the major parties (1) acknowledge that these people matter and (2) come up with a plan for addressing their problems.

US counties by poverty rate (image by “TastyCakes”)