The “White Death” in International Perspective


Since the release of the paper by Anne Case and Angus Deaton showing that mortality rates amongst middle-aged White American males increased from 1999-2013, there has been a lot of anguished hand-wringing about the sorts of further regression or even collapses that it might portend. Comparisons have been made to the Soviet Union, which also saw an (alcohol-fuelled) spike in mortality since the 1960s, which reached its apogee in the 1990s.

This self-criticism, seen both on alternative media outlets like the Unz Review as well as higher profile venues such as The New York Times (Paul Krugman I see also made a limited Soviet comparison), is a perfectly health reaction to a problem which although quite severe by developed world standards is nowhere near the scale of that which afflicted the Soviet Union (where until the late 1980s discussion of adverse demographic trends was silenced by the Communist regime). This is something I stressed in my own post on this:

Nonetheless, regardless of the fact that the US mortality crisis is far less severe in absolute terms, and didn’t undergo the catastrophic “spike” that post-Soviet Russia experienced, the similarities – a major demographic group experiencing a sustained deterioration in its mortality prospects over a period of decades in an industrialized country – are otherwise quite remarkable.

Here are a couple of graphs that should prevent Americans falling into unreasonable pessimism. The figures for mortality rates / 100,000 for 50 year olds are drawn from, which hosts one of the most detailed databases on mortality rates for a variety of OECD and ex-USSR countries. (I used it extensively to compile my forecasts of Russia’s 21st century demographics). And the blunt fact of the matter is that relative to what happened in the late USSR not to even mention the 1990s, when the Russian state lost its monopoly on vodka production, there is simply no comparison in absolute terms to the limited meth/painkiller epidemic that is currently suppressing life expectancy in some of the poorer US White communities. (Although this graph shows mortality for all 50 year Americans, do note that that age group is still very much predominantly White, so the all-American figures will to a very large extent be merely parallel to White American trends. For Whites specifically, just imagine the very marginal decline from 1990 to today as a flat line instead).


As we can see above, the American trends in the past two decades – characterized by stagnation – are qualitatively different from what afflicted the USSR and its successor states from 1965 to 1985, let alone the turmoil of the post-Soviet transition – characterized as they were by very significant outright increases in mortality followed by a sharp mortality spike in the 1990s. Even Poland, a country with some of the lowest prediclections towards vodka bingeing in Eastern Europe – though that, admittedly, is not exactly the highest of bars – has only recently just about finished recovering the sort of middle-aged mortality rates that it had half a century ago. In contrast, American middle-aged men – primarily thanks to medical advances – now enjoy mortality rates less than half of those that prevailed before the advent of advanced modern medicine in the 1960s.


The US health profile isn’t anywhere near as good relative to other countries in the developed world, but it should be noted that this has pretty much always been the case (though of course the burden of that difference has shifted in relative terms from US Blacks to Whites). As seen from the graph above, as of the early 2010s, the US had a significantly higher than middle-aged male mortality rate than the European country with the shortest life expectancy, Denmark, as well as the longest-lived Latin American country, Chile. Moreover, the US were from being around the highest end of the developed country range in the early 1990s, to something close to an outlier by the early 2010s.

This merits concern. Furthermore, whereas in my Soviet Fishtown post I posited that the cause of this US mortality lag might have been due to a vicious symbiosis of loose pharma advertising rules and obesity, the example of New Zealand – which has seen very strong and consistent reductions in mortality – puts a big question mark over that thesis. That is because as pointed out by the commentator Chuck, New Zealand was the only country in the world – alongside the US – to legalize direct to consumer advertising of prescription drugs; and New Zealand, too, has a fairly rotund obesity problem of its own. Nonetheless, it has not experienced the mortality stagnation that the US has.

Note however that New Zealand doesn’t exactly support “Leftist” explanations of the US White exception to First World middle-aged mortality declines either. That is because New Zealand too had a distinct “neoliberal” revolution – and one that hasn’t generally been judged to have been successful. Nonetheless, contrary to Leftist conventional wisdom, New Zealand in fact saw very rapid reductions in mortality – including middle-aged male mortality, as seen in the graph above – during the late 1980s and early 1990s, to the extent that it basically halved in overall terms.

Two meager conclusions follow:

(1) Don’t rush to assign overly “ideological” explanations to adverse trends, such as the stagnation in middle-aged US White male mortality. Neither the “Leftist” one of neoliberal reform, nor the “Rightist” one of increasing immigration and White demoralization (which most of Europe saw as well), nor even quasi-HBD one I posited in my “Soviet Fishtown” post (combination of easily prescriptiond drugs, obesity, and White melancholy) work very well.

(2) Although there is ample cause of concern, overly direct comparisons with what happened in 1990s Russia – or even the 1970s-1980s USSR – are as yet overwrought. And in any case, with medical technology continuing to advance, there might be a good chance that the last 25 years of stagnation in US White middle-aged mortality might end up being a temporary affair before the resumption of progress.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. Erik Sieven says

    very good article. not everything is about HBD and the immigration disaster

  2. Minor point, New Zealand isn’t necessarily comparable even though prescription drug advertising is legal. What matters is the willingness of doctors to prescribe painkillers.


  3. Seamus Padraig says

    Anatoly, I don’t see any article or content above. Is it my screen? Or did something go wrong on your end? The other pages here at Unz look fine.

  4. Anatoly Karlin says

    Unfortunately, this is a recurrent problem with the most recent WordPress update, and one that has affected recent posts throughout the site.

    There is not much I can really do about it for now but in the meantime as consolation here are the twe graphs used in this post:

  5. You can’t easily switch doctors in the UK, especially if you are angling for painkillers. I don’t know about New Zealand but I believe in the US the average patient can switch to a doctor who supplies the necessary without too much trouble.

    Regarding 1, if people feel useless they develop self-destructive thoughts I think. Voices in the head of the mentally ill person always tell them to kill themself. If there is anything to group selection, one can imagine a resource scarce environment selecting for an evolutionary tendency for useless people to remove themselves, so ideological explanations for a higher death rate and a connection to US cultural imprecations against whites of an older age is not all that implausible.

    Regarding 2,

    Todd attracted attention in 1976 when he, at 25 years old, predicted the fall of the Soviet Union, based on indicators such as increasing infant mortality rates:

    It was demographer Emmanuel Todd who predicted Soviet collapse, and look what he is predicting now. From an Occidental Observer article, so suspect purport but, it quotes him as saying

    The fundamental effect of these events was to tense up older voters. French society turned into a mass gerontocracy. Some wanted to see ethnic problems in what was in fact a conflict between older and younger people. The violence of 2005 marks the failed rebellion of the youth and the success of Nicolas Sarkozy, the elected official most supported by the elderly in the entire history of the right: 44 percent of over-65s voted for him in 2007.

    Sexagenarians are criticizing young people for being Arabs, Muslims, or rappers, as they criticized the children of the 60s for having long hair and liking Anglo-American pop.

    What these people reject is the very idea of a new France. The problem will not be resolved through a violent ideological struggle. The solution is demographic: We are old hegemons, but we will disappear. One can always find reasons in oneself to reject the passage of time and the replacement of generations. The real “grand remplacement” [great displacement].

  6. Seamus Padraig says

    Thanks for the reply and the graphs.

  7. Watch what happens the next time the economy crashes. White death rate will spike, but I’m sure we’ll see the usual reporting about women and minorities being hardest hit.

  8. White % of global population

    *1900: 30%

    interlude: Judeo-communist revolution in Russia + Zionist-forced White fratricide, a.k.a. 1914-45 WorldWar

    *2000: 9%

    interlude: Judeo-globalist open borders insourcing of non-Whites + Kosher Culture of Death-engineered (abortion, porn, homosex, feminism) collapse of White birthrate

    *2100: Whites extinct