A research team from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York City has estimated that 875,000 deaths in the US in 2000 could be attributed to a cluster of social factors bound up with poverty and income inequality.
According to US government statistics, some 2.45 million Americans died in 2000. Thus, the researchers’ estimate means that social deprivation was responsible for some 36 percent of total US deaths that year, a staggering total.
There is no reason to believe, after a decade that has seen sustained attacks on social programs and consistently high unemployment rates, that the social mortality rate has declined. On the contrary, it has likely risen.
The social causes considered by the research team surpass in their deadly consequences heart disease and lung cancer, accidents and factors often categorized as lifestyle-related, such as smoking and obesity (which, of course, in many cases, are also associated with social conditions).