Andrea Tilstra – Deaths of Despair – or not

Andrea TilstraCU-Boulder Sociologist Andrea Tilstra discusses how this decade’s reduction of lifespan in the US  ties closely with two factors 1) easier access to painkillers and opioids, and 2) the obesity epidemic and the related health problems that come with it.  Tilstra also explains the quesitons a social scientist/demographer asks when examining the COVID-19 pandemic, the COVID-19 Boulder County local tracking of the pandemic, and the human factors to consider as people face the stresses of social distancing and trying to stay connected.

Producer and Host:   Shelley Schlender
Engineer:   Maeve Conran
Executive Producer:   Jill Sjong
Additional Contributions:  Music from Lynn Patrick

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Mortality Trends in America // Life Expectancy in America

This week on How on Earth we look at the scientific research into the lifespans of Americans.

Andrea Tilstra
Andrea Tilstra

Mortality trends in America (start time 4:05): We speak with Andrea Tilstra, who co-authored a recent paper on mortality trends in America. Tilstra is a co-author of a recent study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.  Her team’s paper is titled “Explaining recent mortality trends among younger and middle-aged White Americans.” 



S. Jay Olshansky, Ph.D., of the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Photo by Kevin J. Miyazaki/Redux
S. Jay Olshansky, Ph.D.

Life expectancy in America (start time 12:40): Next, we speak with Jay Olshansky, who ten years ago first predicted the recently observed drop in life expectancy in America. Olshansky is a world renowned expert in the Science of Aging.  As for his crystal ball – well, it has little to do with magic, and more to do with his understanding about how our cells work, and how they age.  It also helps that he understands statistics.


Hosts: Alejandro Soto, Joel Parker, Shelley Schlender
Additional Contributions: Beth Bennett
Producer: Alejandro Soto
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Alejandro Soto

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