Things Come Apart

During the tedium of the Coronavirus-19 pandemic is a terrible time to publish a book on suicides, drug overdoses, and alcohol abuse among middle-aged white Americans.  It may or may not be a great time to read one.

See Atul Gawande’s superb review of Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism, by Anne Case and Angus Deaton (Princeton, 2020) in The New Yorker, and decide what you think. Both authors are Princeton University professors.  Deaton was recognized in 2015 with a Nobel Prize in economic sciences, for contributions to measurement economics. Or watch the married couple’s Tanner Lectures on Human Values, the first by Case, the second by Deaton. Or listen to Deaton’s webinar presentation earlier this month.

Or not. As Deaton wrote in his “Letter from America,” in the latest Royal Economic Society newsletter, “Two epidemics at once is more than anyone can be expected to handle; even our friends say they can’t read it now.”

Economic Principals ran into unrelated reporting problems and chose to skip the week. Back with something else next Sunday, then with a return to problems of the health care system before long.

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