When American policymakers debate how to keep Americans safe, the conversation often turns to putting more police on the streets or engaging our troops in foreign conflicts to battle overseas threats. But a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health late last month suggests that the one of the best ways to save American lives would be to make sure our kids are getting a good quality education, reduce racial segregation, and combat poverty and income inequality.
The researchers who wrote the study looked at several social factors and their impact on mortality among Americans. Surveying data from the year 2000, the team found shocking results. The researchers concluded that in 2000, 245,000 Americans died of causes attributable to low education, 176,000 died due to racial segregation, 162,000 died from low social support, 133,000 died due to individual-level poverty, 119,000 died from income inequality, and 39,000 from area-level poverty.
In comparison, according to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Report, 15,517 Americans were murdered the same year. That means nearly 15 times as many Americans died because they failed to achieve adequate levels of education than were killed in acts of homicide. ThinkProgress has assembled the researchers’ data on mortality and social factors and compared the numbers to Americans murdered the same year:
It appears that if policymakers really want to protect the wellbeing of Americans, they have to look beyond simply protecting our borders and putting cops on the street. They also have to be prepared to battle poor education, poverty, racial segregation, income inequality, and other social factors that are literally putting Americans’ lives at risk.