Female Mortality Rates Up; Union Jobs Can Help

Susan Dentzer, Senior Policy Adviser to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, moderates a panel on “Rising Mortality Rates in Women in the U.S.” on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

New research yields particularly troubling trends in female mortality rates across much of the United States, said a panel of health experts at a recent forum on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

According to the Women’s Policy, Inc. panel discussion entitled “Rising Mortality Rates in Women in the U.S.,” even though mortality has fallen in most U.S. counties from 1992 to 2006, female mortality has risen in 42.8 percent of counties. Male mortality rates increased only 3.4 percent.

Researchers say while the causes of why women are dying at a faster rate are not all clear, there are some areas of concern – one of which includes a woman’s socioeconomic status.

“The best we can surmise at this point is that there’s kind of a toxic stew of problems here at work,” said Susan Dentzer, Senior Policy Adviser to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “One aspect may be toxic stress… We also know people have a lot of socioeconomic stressors in many parts of the country – low-wage jobs, poor economic growth, working multiple jobs to make ends meet.”

While the research may still be out on the issue, there are a number of steps we can take as a country to reverse this disturbing new trend, says IAM General Vice President Diane Babineaux.

“Equal pay, workplace flexibility, and a fair and just workplace – all of the things provided in a union contract – are just some of the ways we can begin to address the socioeconomic stressors plaguing many women today,” said Babineaux. “Research shows that today women are the main breadwinners in 50 percent of American households. A sound collective bargaining agreement will ensure that those women earn their fair share and ease some of the economic strain that comes with having to take care of a family. The results of this study underscore the importance of organizing.”

For more on the “Rising Mortality Rates in Women” study and panel discussion, click here.