Quick Links – ‘Women’s deaths from painkiller overdose’; over-regulation hurting the economy; students need to learn patience

by Grace

‘Sharp rise in women’s deaths from painkiller overdose … rise of the single-parent household’ partly to blame

Women are catching up to men.

PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — Prescription pain pill addiction was originally seen as a man’s problem, a national epidemic that began among workers doing backbreaking labor in the coal mines and factories of Appalachia. But a new analysis of federal data has found that deaths in recent years have been rising far faster among women, quintupling since 1999.

More women now die of overdoses from pain pills like OxyContin than from cervical cancer or homicide. And though more men are dying, women are catching up, according to the analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the problem is hitting white women harder than black women, and older women harder than younger ones.

In this Ohio River town on the edge of Appalachia, women blamed the changing nature of American society. The rise of the single-parent household has thrust immense responsibility on women, who are not only mothers, but also, in many cases, primary breadwinners. Some who described feeling overwhelmed by their responsibilities said they craved the numbness that drugs bring. Others said highs made them feel pretty, strong and productive, a welcome respite from the chaos of their lives….

Women are more likely to rely on prescription pain medicine.

Deaths among women have been rising for some time, but Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the C.D.C. director, said the problem had gone virtually unrecognized. The study offered several theories for the increase. Women are more likely than men to be prescribed pain drugs, to use them chronically, and to get prescriptions for higher doses.

The study’s authors hypothesized that it might be because the most common forms of chronic pain, like fibromyalgia, are more common in women. A woman typically also has less body mass than a man, making it easier to overdose.

Women are also more likely to be given prescriptions of psychotherapeutic drugs, like antidepressants and antianxiety medications, Dr. Volkow said. That is significant because people who overdose are much more likely to have been taking a combination of those drugs and pain medication.

Broader social trends, like unemployment, an increase in single-parent families, and their associated stressors, might have also contributed to the increase in abuse, but they are slow moving and unlikely to be a direct explanation, Dr. Volkow said.

Related:  ‘Record Number Of Families Rely On Women’s Income, Many Of Them Headed By Single Mothers’ (ThinkProgress)

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Over-regulation is making America poorer.

In a research paper that appears in the June 2013 issue of The Journal of Economic Growth titled “Federal Regulation and Aggregate Economic Growth,” economists John Dawson (Appalachian State University) and John Seater (North Carolina State University) examine the relationship between the growth in regulations (measured by the pages of federal regulations) since 1949 and economic performance (measured by real GDP growth). As the authors point out in their introduction:

Macroeconomists typically divide government economic activity into four broad classes: spending, taxation, deficits, and monetary policy. There is, however, a fifth class of activity that may well have important effects on economic activity but that nevertheless has received little attention in the macroeconomic literature: regulation. Although microeconomists have analyzed both the causes and effects of regulation for decades, macroeconomists have joined the discussion only much more recently, with a number of empirical studies suggesting that regulation has significant macroeconomic effects.

Economist Mark J. Perry thinks this study actually under-estimates the total cost of regulation since it does not include “wasteful rent-seeking that private firms engage in before the regulations are in place, as they attempt to influence (support, oppose or change) federal regulations when they are first being proposed and considered”.  State and local regulations are also excluded.

… Adding in these costs of rent-seeking, and the costs of state regulations, paints a pretty depressing picture of how much poorer we all are due to the crushing burden of government regulations.

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Patience may be an undervalued 21st century skill.

According to Daniel Willingham, the problem of students’ declining attention span is less about technology changing the brain, and more about never having to face boredom.

Most teachers t think that students today have a problem paying attention. They seem impatient, easily bored.

I’ve argued that I think it’s unlikely that they are incapable of paying attention, but rather that they are quick to deem things not worth the effort.

Today’s kids are rarely forced to be bored.

We might wonder if patience would not come easier to a student who had had the experience of sustaining attention in the face of boredom, and then later finding that patience was rewarded. Arguably, digital immigrants were more likely to have learned this lesson. There were fewer sources of distraction and entertainment, and so we were a bit more likely to hang in there with something a little dull. …

Students today have so many options that being mildly bored can be successfully avoided most of the time.

If this analysis has any truth to it, how can digital natives learn that patience sometimes brings a reward?

Jennifer Roberts, a professor of the History of Art and Architecture at Harvard, suggests an exercise in which students are asked to study a painting for three hours.  While this seems excessive, this long duration of simple observation causes the students to see features about the painting that they would never have noticed if they had given up after a few minutes.

… The goal is that the student think “Okay, I’ve seen about all I’m going to see in this painting.” But because they must continue looking, they see more. And more. And more. Patience is rewarded.

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