Is health care to blame? Troubling new research shows that life expectancy for the less-educated white Americans is down four years since 1999, reversing longstanding theories that most educated whites were making the biggest strides in life span. The reasons for the dip are unclear, though researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago speculate rising obesity, increased smoking rates among less educated white women and a lack of health insurance for the least educated Americans may provide some explanations. White women who hadn’t graduated from high school lost five years of life between 1990 and 2008, according the lead investigator on the study—a decline that rivals the seven-year drop for Russian men in the years after the Soviet Union collapsed.
MORTALITY RATES Uwe Umstatter / Getty Images