Each year hundreds of thousands of Americans die as a result of drug abuse, alcoholism or suicide – and the numbers are rising. This has contributed to a fall in life expectancy in the past three years, reversing a trend towards increased life expectancy that began in 1918. In their acclaimed new book, Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism, economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton have identified a culprit for these ‘deaths of despair’: capitalism – or at least some aspects of it.
Case and Deaton – who has won the Nobel Prize for Economics – argue that our current economic system has so privileged the college-educated that it has left behind an entire working class strand of American society that will only become more impoverished, disenfranchised and despairing.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made things worse. Deaton is leading a study of inequality in Britain and the data already clearly shows the pandemic has further widened the gap between rich and poor. ‘As the vaccines should, at some point this year, take us into a world largely free of the pandemic, it is imperative to think about policies that will be needed to repair the damage and that focus on those who have suffered the most.’
Hear these two leading economists make their case for why it’s essential we create a more equitable economic model in the wake of the current pandemic.
Speakers are subject to change.