Inequality in Health Returns to Local Labor Markets: Extraction Booms and Mortality among Native Americans
This project seeks to extend research on “deaths of despair” to look specifically at the causes of such deaths for Native Americans, and Native American women and girls in particular. Deaths of despair among Native Americans are proportionately higher than among any other group in the United States and have increased at almost twice the rate of non-Hispanic White Americans. Are the predictors of a death of despair for White constituents, especially men (joblessness, high rates of unemployment), different than those for Native American women and girls? The project will study this in the context of fracking. Preliminary analysis provides compelling, suggestive evidence that higher rates of employment and earnings among non-Hispanic White men due to extraction booms, measured by the fracking industry and building on existing literature, in proximity to Native lands and to Native American girls and women likely induces more human trafficking activity that disproportionately affects Native women and girls. In turn, this may also induce behaviors to “cope” with such contexts, such as increased alcohol and substance use and suicides among Native women and girls. The authors convincingly argue that what might reduce deaths of despair (jobs and higher wages) for one group (non-Hispanic White men) might result in higher rates of deaths of despair for another marginalized group, Native women and girls.