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Chapter 20 Short Essay American Studies

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Topic: At the end of the supplemental readings for Chapter 20 there are three that deal with the relation between profound social change, demoralization, mortality, and a nation’s life expectancy. Read the ABSTRACT for the the JAMA article on Life Expectancy in the U.S. The rest of the article is pretty technical, so that isn’t required, although you may be interested in the graphs. In the abstract there is only one phrase that I need to explain: “all-cause mortality.” This means: a summation of all the deaths from any and every cause that was measured. If I trip over my shoes and break my neck, the cause would be “accident.” But if I add up ALL the deaths from ALL the causes, then we have a number we can call “all-cause mortality.”

The basic finding is that American life expectancy is going DOWN because so many Americans of the middle years have begun dying sooner then they did just a few decades ago.

Why are so many Americans dying younger than they used to? Next, read Masha Gessen’s article on the increase in mortality among Russians after the breakup of the Soviet Union. So many people died that their life expectancy went down. Basically, an entire generation or two lost hope for a better society, and proceeded to drink themselves to death. Also note the short article on improvements in the mortality rate and life expectancy once there were new restrictions on liquor sales and support for a better economy.

My question to you then, is this: Given what you saw in the other supplemental readings and videos, is the post-Soviet example relevant to understanding the increased mortality rates and declining life expectancy among Americans?

Please answer this question in at least 2-3 pages, Apa Format.

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