Trump voters die younger

2017-08-27 05:59
US President Donald Trump (Evan Vucci, AP, file)

US President Donald Trump (Evan Vucci, AP, file)

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Voters in US counties where life expectancy has stagnated and declined in recent years helped elect Donald Trump as president.

A study examined county-level data on voting patterns from the 2008 and 2016 presidential elections, and on life expectancy for people born from 1980 to 2014.

Nationally, life expectancy increased by an average 5.3 years during the study period, researchers report in the American Journal of Public Health.

In counties with below-average gains in life expectancy or declines, a majority of voters chose Trump, the Republican nominee.

But in counties with above-average gains in life expectancy, most voters chose the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Study author Jacob Bor of the Boston University School of Public Health said the very strong association was striking.

He suggested that the large divergence in health fortunes had mirrored the divergence in politics.

To assess the connection between survival odds and political participation, Bor looked at changes in the Republican share of votes between 2008 and 2016, as well as at shifts in the absolute numbers of votes won by each of the two major political parties.

Overall, Republicans lost 67 000 votes from 2008 to 2016 in counties with above-average gains in life expectancy, but gained 3.1 million votes in counties with below-average life expectancy trends.

During the same period, Democrats gained 1.4 million votes in counties with above-average life expectancy gains, but lost 5 million votes in counties with below-average gains.

Bor noted that since coming to power, the Trump administration had proposed cuts to health insurance for the poor, as well as for social programmes, health research and environmental worker protections – all of which are key determinants of health at the population level and may influence life expectancy in the future.

“This study confirms what we already know,” said Vicente Navarro, a health policy researcher at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

“The standard of living and quality of life of the majority of the working class of the US has been declining.

“They are angry and channel their anger against what they consider the political establishment, voting for Trump,” said Navarro, who was not involved in the study.

“The paradox is that President Trump is carrying out policies that will further reduce their life expectancy.” – Reuters

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