The death rate for white women in rural areas has been on the rise since 2000, according to an analysis by The Washington Post
Though death rates among African Americans, Hispanics and older white women have been decreasing, the rates for middle-aged white women in rural areas is on the rise. The death rate among white men has risen as well, though not at as high a rate.
Several factors were attributed to the rise, including risky behaviors such as drinking, smoking and drug use. The rise at the turn of the century coincides with the approval and widespread use of the drug oxycodone.
But there are other factors as well.
"The stressors have increased," Janine Clayton, director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health at the National Institutes of Health, told the Post. "If it's affecting women who previously had better health, how might it even more deleteriously affect women who previously had borderline health?"
White women have taken on more work roles outside the home while still retaining their traditional gender roles in the home in the past 50 years, researchers said.
"I think we are undergoing a change that's comparable to the Industrial Revolution," said Laudy Aron, a researcher with the Urban Institute. "Those of us who are lucky enough to have jobs are sort of clinging to them for dear life."
Obesity and suicide also played roles in the rising death rates.
Though many of these factors are not rural-specific, there are fewer job opportunities now in rural areas, leading to a sense of hopelessness that fuels poor eating habits and the abuse of alcohol, tobacco and drugs.
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