Opportunity for Health

Deindustrialization, Mortality, and Fiscal Decline in the U.S.

WZB - Berlin Social Science Center · September 21, 2021

The decline of manufacturing employment is frequently invoked as a key cause of worsening U.S. population health trends, including rising mortality due to ‘deaths of despair’.

Increasing automation—the use of industrial robots to perform tasks previously done by human workers—is one major structural force driving the decline of manufacturing jobs and wages. In this study we examine the impact of automation on U.S. age-sex specific mortality between 1993 and 2007. We go on to examine heterogeneity in effects as a function of state public policy. Finally we provide preliminary evidence for a novel mechanism liking deindustrialization to population health: reduced government spending as a result of weakened local tax bases.

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