Conservative state policies in general associations


Changing state policies could prevent thousands of deaths each year from cardiovascular disease, suicide, alcohol and drug poisoning

Photo: Changing state policies could prevent thousands of deaths each year from cardiovascular disease, suicide, alcohol and drug poisoning
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State policies in eight different policy areas, including gun safety, labor and tobacco, are associated with working-age mortality in the United States, according to a new study published this week in the journal Open Access. PLUS ONE Written by Jennifer Karas-Monitz of Syracuse University, US, and colleagues. They noted that more conservative state policies were generally associated with higher mortality.

Americans die younger than people in most other high-income countries, and life expectancy within the United States varies markedly across geographic regions. In 2019, the period ranged from 74.4 years in Mississippi to 80.9 years in Hawaii.

In the new work, researchers used data from the 1999-2019 National Vital Statistics System to calculate state-level age-adjusted mortality rates for deaths from all causes and from cardiovascular disease (CVD), alcohol, suicide, and drug poisoning among adults of all ages. 25 to 64. They combined this data with annual state-level data on eight policy areas, in which each state’s policies were recorded on a continuum from conservative to liberal.

The analysis revealed that more liberal policies on the environment, gun safety, labor, economic taxes, and tobacco taxes were associated with lower death rates in each state. However, for marijuana, more conservative policies were associated with lower mortality. Particularly strong associations were found between gun safety policies and suicide deaths among men; between work policies and alcohol-related deaths; And between economic policies, tobacco tax policies, and deaths from cardiovascular disease. The simulation suggested that changing all policies in all states to a fully liberal orientation would have saved 171,030 lives in 2019, while changing them to a fully conservative orientation would have cost 217,635 lives.

The authors conclude that the emergence of more conservative state policies in many areas and shifts in the proportion of the population living in states with these policies provide a partial explanation for the higher mortality rate, higher mortality among working-age Americans, and the overall harm to mortality in comparison to other high-income countries.

The authors add: “US policies in recent decades may have contributed to higher mortality rates for working-age adults. Changing state policies could prevent thousands of deaths each year from cardiovascular disease, suicide, alcohol and drug poisoning.”

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In your coverage, please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article at PLUS ONE: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0275466

the quote: Montez JK, Mehri N, Monat SM, Beckfield J, Chapman D, Grumbash GM, et al. (2022) US Policy Contexts and Mortality of Working Age Adults. Plus One 17 (10): e0275466. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0275466

Composing countries: United States of America

Financing: This article was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Aging to JKM (grant R01AG05581). www.nih.nia.gov. The funder had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, or the decision to publish or prepare the manuscript.


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