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There has been a widening divergence in mortality rates across states over the past four decades. While this is partially explained by differences in education, income and “deaths of despair” — those related to alcohol, drugs, or suicide — there are also place-based effects beyond these factors. This week on EconoFact Chats, Ellen Meara discusses the effect of the health environment and state-level policies on mortality rates, and how the breakdown of social safeguards contributes to worse health outcomes.

Ellen is Professor of Health Economics and Policy at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University and an elected member of the National Board of Medicine.


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