Economics & Finance

Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism

A New York Times Bestseller
A Wall Street Journal Bestseller
A New York Times Notable Book of 2020
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
Shortlisted for the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year
A New Statesman Book to Read

From economist Anne Case and Nobel Prize winner Angus Deaton, a groundbreaking account of how the flaws in capitalism are fatal for America's working class


Mar 17, 2020
6.13 x 9.25 in.
26 b/w illus. 2 maps.
Economics & Finance
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Life expectancy in the United States has recently fallen for three years in a row—a reversal not seen since 1918 or in any other wealthy nation in modern times. In the past two decades, deaths of despair from suicide, drug overdose, and alcoholism have risen dramatically, and now claim hundreds of thousands of American lives each year—and they’re still rising. Anne Case and Angus Deaton, known for first sounding the alarm about deaths of despair, explain the overwhelming surge in these deaths and shed light on the social and economic forces that are making life harder for the working class. They demonstrate why, for those who used to prosper in America, capitalism is no longer delivering.

Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism paints a troubling portrait of the American dream in decline. For the white working class, today’s America has become a land of broken families and few prospects. As the college educated become healthier and wealthier, adults without a degree are literally dying from pain and despair. In this critically important book, Case and Deaton tie the crisis to the weakening position of labor, the growing power of corporations, and, above all, to a rapacious health-care sector that redistributes working-class wages into the pockets of the wealthy. Capitalism, which over two centuries lifted countless people out of poverty, is now destroying the lives of blue-collar America.

This book charts a way forward, providing solutions that can rein in capitalism’s excesses and make it work for everyone.

Listen in: Deaths of Despair

Deaths of despair strike women too

Awards and Recognition

  • One of The New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2020
  • Finalist for the PROSE Award in Economics, Association of American Publishers
  • Shortlisted for the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year
  • Finalist for the Best Non-Fiction Book, Digital Book World Awards
  • Finalist for the Best Book Published by a University Press, Digital Book World Awards
  • One of the Financial Times Selected Titles for 2020 Visions: The Year Ahead in Books
  • One of New Statesman's Books to Read in 2020
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A Wall Street Journal Bestseller
  • One of Next Big Idea Club's Most Anticipated Nonfiction Books of Spring
  • A New York Times Editors' Choice
  • One of the Financial Times' Summer Books of 2020: Economics
  • One of the Strategy+Business Best Business Books 2020 in Economics
  • One of The Sunday Times' Best Business Books of 2020
  • Winner of the William G. Bowen Book Award, Industrial Relations Section of Princeton University