24 June 2022

The Justices, Federal Elected Officials, And Their Religions

The lack of religious diversity on the U.S. Supreme Court has long been troubling, even though the appointment of Justice Jackson brings it slightly more in line with the nation's religious makeup.

Indeed, one good reason to increase the size of the U.S. Supreme Court, in addition to its conservative dominance which is out of step with the views of the nation as a whole, is to allow the U.S. Supreme Court to have a more diverse and representative membership.

Every one of the six conservative justices of the U.S. Supreme Court is either Catholic or was raised Catholic (as is one of the three liberal justices of the U.S. Supreme Court). 

We have gone from having two Jewish justices to having one Jewish justice and one non-denominational African-American Protestant justice.
Jackson, who was confirmed by the Senate . . . will be only the second Protestant on the high court when she joins the court this summer, along with Neil Gorsuch (who is Episcopalian but was raised Catholic). The justice whom Jackson will replace, Stephen Breyer, is Jewish, as is Elena Kagan, who remains on the court. 
The remaining six justices -- John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett -- are Catholic.  
This is not reflective of the U.S. population, as has been widely discussed in recent years. Our latest estimate from over 15,000 Gallup interviews conducted from January 2021 through March of this year shows that about 22% of the adult population identifies as Catholic, as opposed to the 67% Catholic representation on the court. Two percent of the population identifies as Jewish (Kagan represents 11% of the nine justices). The biggest disproportionality comes in terms of Protestants. About 45% of Americans are non-Catholic Christian, or Protestant, compared with what will be 22% Protestant representation on the court. 
There is also a completely missing constituency on the court, the "nones," or those who when asked say they have no formal religious identity. About 21% of the U.S. population are nones (and another 3% don't give a response when asked about their religion), according to Gallup data. . . .
Jackson's self-identification as a "nondenominational" Protestant also reflects an increasingly prevalent trend within the Protestant segment. Fewer non-Catholic Christians now identify with established Protestant denominations (for example, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran), and more who are not Catholics simply say they are Christian or nondenominational. . . . 
members of Congress are somewhat more representative of the U.S. population in their religious identity than are Supreme Court justices. Pew Research used data collected by CQ Roll Call to estimate the religious composition of the 117th Congress. Like the court, almost all members of Congress have a religious identity, which, like the court, puts Congress at odds with the general population, among whom less than 80% have a religious identity. Pew reports that of the 531 members of Congress and the Senate seated in early 2021, only one said they were religiously unaffiliated, although the religious identity of another 3.6% couldn't be established.

Given this relatively low percentage of nones in Congress compared with the U.S. population, other religious groups have to be proportionally higher, as is in fact the case. Unlike the Supreme Court, which is disproportionately Catholic, the percentage of Catholics in Congress (30%) is just modestly higher than the population's percentage of Catholics. Also unlike the Supreme Court, which is way underrepresented in terms of Protestants, the 55% of Congress who identify as Protestant or non-Catholic Christian is somewhat higher than the general population. Finally, while the 6% of members of Congress who are Jewish is low in absolute terms, it is three times the percentage of Jews in the general population.

From here. 

President Joe Biden is Catholic, as is the Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. Seven House committee chairs are Catholic. New York’s Jewish senator, Charles E. Schumer, is the Senate Democratic leader. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Vice President Kamala Harris are all Baptists.

How Religious Are People In Different U.S. States?

The data on which U.S. states are most religious isn't very surprising, but worth a view anyway, as summarized by this 2022 summary of a Pew Study on the topic. 

There is not a comprehensive way to determine what states are the most religious. However, Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study gives us the best picture of what states are the most religious.

This study looks at four measures to determine what states are the most religious. . . . 
Religious attendance
Frequency of prayer
Belief in God
Self-assessment of the importance of religion . . .

Seventy-seven percent of Alabama residents stated that religion was very important within their own lives, compared to just 74% of people who said the same in Mississippi. Mississippi topped Alabama when it came to prayers, with 75% of Mississippi people stating they pray daily compared to just 73% of people in Alabama.

When it comes to attending worship services, neither Alabama nor Mississippi came out on top. That honor went to the state of Utah, where 53% of residents attend worship services at least weekly. Alabama came in second place with 51% of residents regularly attending services, while Mississippi came in 4th with 49%.

For belief in God, both states were tied. 82% of people in each state believe in God with absolute certainty.

From here (along with the table below, which I have color coded by state level 2020 Presidential election results with red supporting Trump and blue supporting Biden). 

In the United States as a whole, 55% of adults are religious as determined by Pew's standards, a figure quite close to the best dividing line between state election outcomes. 

StateReligious Adults
South Carolina70.00%
West Virginia69.00%
North Carolina65.00%
South Dakota59.00%
New Mexico57.00%
New Jersey55.00%
North Dakota53.00%
Rhode Island49.00%
New York46.00%
New Hampshire33.00%
Map from here.

Political Analysis

Overall Trends

It is not surprising to anyone familiar with U.S. politics that political identity is links to how religious you are: more religious people, on average, are more likely to support Republicans, while less religious people, on average, are more likely to support Democrats, although correlation isn't perfect. Also, it is worth noting that many of the states in the middle of the ranking of percentage of religious adults, were also swing states: Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, for example, each of which were 53% religious, were each states with quite close outcomes. 

There is a certain irony in this, as former President Donald Trump is not at all a religious man, even though many very religious white American Christians have embraced him as a prophetic savior, while President Biden is a very devout Catholic and has been for his entire political career.

States with large percentages of Hispanic and non-white voters are more likely to support Democrats, even though these demographics are often quite religious. More urban states are also more likely to support Democrats, while rural states are also more likely to support Republicans.

To oversimplify, the Democratic party is a coalition of urban less religious white voters and non-white voters, while the Republican party is made up of less urban, more religious white voters.

The More Religious States

Only five of the twenty-six states with 54% or more of adults who were religious (Georgia, Virginia, New Mexico, New Jersey, and Maryland) voted for Biden. 

All of the outliers have large populations of religious non-whites, Georgia, Virginia, New Jersey, and Maryland are relatively urban and many of the non-Hispanic whites who live in these states live in urban areas (and are often relatively recent migrants from other places). 

New Mexico is 49% Hispanic and only 37% of New Mexicans are non-Hispanic white. Maryland is 50% non-Hispanic white. Georgia is 52% non-Hispanic white. New Jersey is 55% non-Hispanic white. Virginia is 62% non-Hispanic white. New Jersey also has a significant number of very religious non-Christians. 

Mining and agriculture are not particularly central to the economies of Georgia, Virginia, New Jersey, and Maryland (something that is a relatively recent development in Georgia and Virginia).

The Less Religious States

Only four of the twenty-four states with 53% or fewer of adults who were religious (North Dakota, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska) voted for Trump. 

North Dakota, Idaho, and Montana are all very rural and have few black or Hispanic voters. Montana is 86% non-Hispanic white. North Dakota is 84% non-Hispanic white. Idaho is 82% non-Hispanic white. None of them have any really major cities.

Agriculture and mining are very important components of the economies in all of these outlier states.

The Case of Alaska

Alaska, however, in addition to being the least religious state that supported Trump, is only 60% non-Hispanic white, the same percentage of the United States as a whole (with Native Alaskans making up the largest share of non-white residents), and unlike many other red states, its white population is much more urban than its non-white population with a very large share of white Alaskans living in a handful of major cities. Alaska's people are also younger than the average state, which should favor Democrats.

On the other hand, Alaska perceives itself as very rural with much of its territory roadless and virtually uninhabited, and none of its cities being particularly large, and even many Alaskans in very urban areas are heavily reliant on the oil and gas industry. 

The Case of Wisconsin

Wisconsin, which was a very narrow Democratic win and hence not exactly an outlier, is still one of the more surprising cases. 

One wouldn't think that it would have been close as it isn't a very religious state (only five states are less religious), although it is still 81% non-Hispanic white, and isn't overwhelmingly rural (with some notable urban centers like Milwaukee and Madison). Part of the issue may be that while Wisconsin isn't overwhelmingly rural, it doesn't have all that many urban whites, and its non-white population isn't all that large. 

It may also be the case that lots of rural whites in Wisconsin aren't terribly religious (a secularization trend typical among white Catholics and Lutherans, who were historically predominant in Wisconsin) but remain conservative rural whites who identify as Christian anyway, despite not being very religious as measured by factors like church attendance and daily prayer.

Roe Overruled

Held: The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.
Justice Alito delivered the opinion of the Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, No. 19-1392. Justices Clarence Thomas and Kavanaugh issued concurring opinions. Chief Justice Roberts issued an opinion concurring in the judgment. And Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Kagan collectively issued a dissenting opinion.


From the New York Times.

Future Restrictions And Politics

Dobbs has put abortion restricts on the table as a political issue in the states again - accentuating the red state, blue state divide in the United States.

The exact details of how restrictions will unfold at the state level in the next year or so are uncertain, but for the most part, it will closely track the 2020 Presidential election results, with some slippage in swing states, and a couple of outlier red states.

Likely Bans Or Restrictions In The Near Future

Notably (1) none of the eight states where abortion is now immediately prohibited except Wisconsin, (2) none of the eight states likely to be prohibited in the next month, and (3) none of the four states where it is likely to be greatly restricted relative to the status quo in the next month except Arizona and Georgia, voted for President Biden in the 2020 election. (I have reassigned Florida to the uncertain category contrary to the New York Times categorization.) 

Republicans control all houses of the state legislature and the Governorship in all of these twenty states except Wisconsin, Kentucky and Louisiana (which have Democrats as Governors, but Republican controlled state legislatures).

In Wisconsin: "The state has a law from before Roe that bans nearly all abortions and makes performing them a felony. The Democratic governor and attorney general have said they will not enforce the ban." But, local prosecutors, who are elected (apparently a change adopted in 2008), may seek to bring criminal prosecutions without their cooperation. (The only places where District Attorneys are not elected are Connecticut, New Jersey, Alaska and the District of Columbia, although a state attorney general is the only elected prosecutor in Delaware and Rhode Island). 

In Arizona: "The state enacted an abortion ban after 15 weeks, with no exceptions for rape or incest, which takes effect in September. Arizona has an inactive ban from before 1973, but the governor has said the 15-week ban will take precedence."

In Georgia: "The state enacted a ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, but a court blocked it. The state filed an appeal and a court stayed the case pending the Supreme Court’s decision on Dobbs."

States With Uncertain Near Term Laws 

The New York Times lists nine states where the post-Dobbs state of abortion laws are uncertain, but a fair reading says that Virginia and Montana don't belong on that list, while Florida listed as likely to have restrictions does belong in the uncertain category. So, there are really eight states that are uncertain in addition to the twenty that do or are likely to have swift new restrictions.

Thus, only two states (Michigan and Pennsylvania) that backed President Biden in the 2020 election are in the uncertain category.

In Michigan: "The state has a law from before Roe that would ban nearly all abortions, but it has been blocked in state court. The Democratic governor and attorney general have also said they will not enforce the ban." Republicans currently control the state legislature and there are elected local district attorneys who could enforce it, if state courts don't protect it with a state constitutional right.

In Pennsylvania: "Abortion is not protected by state law. Republicans currently control the state legislature, but the current Democratic governor has vetoed anti-abortion restrictions."

In Florida: "The state enacted an abortion ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which will go into effect on July 1. The state’s high court recognized the right to an abortion in its Constitution three decades ago, but the court has become more conservative, with three of the seven judges appointed by the Republican governor."

Republicans control the Governorship and the state legislatures in five of these states that voted for Trump in 2020 (Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Montana and Nebraska even though its unicameral state legislature is nominally non-partisan), and control the state legislature but not the Governorship in the other two of these states that voted for Trump in 2020 (Kansas and North Carolina). 

New restrictions are likely, within the year, in Indiana, Iowa, and North Carolina. 

Nebraska recently rejected a trigger law to take effect immediately but will be holding a special session to restrict abortion post-Roe. 

There are state constitutional protections in Kansas and Florida, although a state ballot issue in August will seek to repeal state constitutional protections in Kansas, and the Florida Supreme Court might reverse state constitutional protections it enacted three decades ago. 

All of the five states that President Biden won in 2020 that are potentially banning or heavily restricting abortion now or in the immediate future: Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, were very narrow Biden wins. 

But, among these five states, immediately enforced restrictions are likely only in Wisconsin, Arizona, and Georgia. Georgia's restrictions are likely to be severe, while Arizona's are likely to have much less impact since it applies only to abortions after fifteen weeks (which make up only a quite small percentage of the total number of abortions). 

Prospects For No New Restrictions In Two Red States

There are twenty two states, and the District of Columbia, where abortion rights are secured for the time being. Twenty of those states and the District of Columbia backed President Biden in the 2020 election.

Meanwhile, only two red states based on the 2020 election are not on the path to potentially imminently banning or greatly restricting abortion due to state constitutional rights parallel to Roe v. Wade: Alaska and Montana. 

In Alaska: "The state’s high court has recognized a right to “reproductive choice” under its Constitution."

Alaska is the least religious and one of the least non-Hispanic white states to have voted for Trump in 2020. 

In Montana, where Republicans control the state legislature and the Governorship, "The state has a ban after 20 weeks of pregnancy, which is not in effect, but abortion opponents are likely to seek its enforcement. The state’s high court ruled that its Constitution protects the right to an abortion."

Blue States Where Republicans Hold Some Power

New Hampshire voted for President Biden in the 2020 election, but has a Republican governor and a Republican controlled legislature, so it is arguably also a red state in that sense. It has no anti-abortion laws on the books, however, and is unlikely to enact such a law in the near future.

In Virginia: "Abortion will most likely stay accessible, though it is not expressly protected by state law. Split control of the state legislature may prevent significant changes until the next election in 2023." The Governor is a Republican.

Massachusetts, Maryland and Vermont, all of which voted for President Biden in the 2020 election, have Republican governors but also state law protections for abortion. 

Minnesota, which also supported President Biden in the 2020 election, has a split legislature and a Democratic governor, but also has state law protections for abortion.

23 June 2022

Ten Easy Ways To Reduce Property Crime and Fraud

1. Require small telecom providers to adopt anti-spoofing technology for Caller ID.

Lots of serious fraud occurs via junk calls with spoofed source numbers that makes the offenders hard to trace. Anti-spoofing technologies have been adopted by most large telecom providers, but this has just shifted spoofing to numbers from small telecom providers that haven't kept up.

2. Require PINs for in person and automated online credit card purchases

Requiring a personal identification number to use a credit card dramatically reduces credit card fraud.

3. Put trackers in almost all cars, in expensive bicycles, and in almost all laptops and smart phones.

Location tracking devices in hard to quickly remove places can make it easier to catch car and bicycle thieves, potentially shutting down entire theft rings. 

This has been quite effective for cell phones and laptops. 

Ideally, this could include hard to remove trackers in catalytic converters that are a frequent target of thefts. 

4. Legalize marijuana industry banking access.

The exclusion of the gray market marijuana industry from access to banking has greatly increased the use of cash in the economy, and cash is inherently vulnerable to theft and fraud relative to electronic money transfers with credit cards, debit cards, funds deposited in bank accounts, wire transfers, and person to person apps like Zelle and Venmo. 

Giving this industry access to the mainstream banking industry would take a lot of cash out of the economy and thereby reduce property crime and also of violent robberies of people carrying cash to make gray market marijuana purchases.

5. Use more forensics in burglary investigations

Pilot projects in Denver using DNA testing and fingerprint searches in forensic crime investigation normally reserved for murder and rape cases proved very effective at catching the small number of high frequency burglars that account for a large share of all burglaries.

But, despite great successes that made a real dent in Denver burglary rates when it was attempted, the effort seems to have been abandoned and has not be widely copied.

6. Devote more resources to locating online resellers of stolen goods.

Grassroots efforts, for example, of stolen bicycles, often alter law enforcement to online fencing of stolen goods, but agencies often lack the resources to follow up on this information. A federal agency focused on this inherently non-geographic task could improve the ability to law enforcement to react quickly and effectively to such tips, and to catch online fencing of stolen goods even without citizen tips.

7. Randomly include trackers in a modest percentage of delivered packages in problem areas, and use this information together with security camera data to catch porch pirates.

Porch pirates typically steal many packages over an extended period of time. So, catching a single porch pirate in an area where this has been a problem, can prevent large numbers of larceny incidents. Including trackers in even a small percentage of packages in problem areas (perhaps 1%-5%) could make the whole course of criminal conduct much more risky for would be porch pirates, discouraging it in the first place, and would also help a great deal (together with other tools like security cameras on porches) to identify and prosecute porch pirates.

Just a handful of major delivery companies would have to cooperate for this approach to be very effective, and doing so would help customers trust buying goods delivered in this manner.

8. More effectively blacklist fraudsters.

Fraud enforcement is very fragmented. It is divided among myriad occupational licensing organizations in different occupations, among myriad local, state and federal law enforcement agencies with multiple agencies addressing different kinds of fraud at the state and federal level, and private civil lawsuits as well, in addition to a reputational network on the Internet and in old school institutions like the Better Business Bureau. 

But fraudsters can often move one kind of fraud to another one nimbly.

Coordinating separate databases of fraud offenders into a shared common database used to deny them all relevant occupational licenses and to flag their credit scores could make it significantly harder for them to be recidivists.

9. Establish an agency that can identify patterns and networks of fraud activity in social media, and take effective action based upon it.

Regular uses of social media learn to quickly identify common styles of fraud driven efforts to contact users of social media. 

Improving the ability of these platforms and law enforcement agencies to identify these practices and investigate their often common sources and shut them down, while something of a whack a mole effort, could certainly be improved with a federal agency more focused on developing the relationships with the platforms, and the investigational practices and tools, needed to effectively take down these perennial offenders, and to recommend where reforms are needed to be more effective at combating these problems.

10. Legalize one party consent to recording telephone communications.

Recording conversations with fraudsters who haven't been alerted to the fact that they are being recorded is an effective and widely technologically available citizen tool to generate the proof needed to convict them. But they shouldn't be able to hide behind outdated two party consent to record statutes that make it harder to legally generate this information that turn citizen tips to law enforcement into crimes of their own.

Thirteen Easy Ways To Save Lots Of U.S. Lives

This is a list of some of the easiest public health and public safety policy choices that the U.S. can make to save lives. 

There are other common causes of what are sometimes called "preventable deaths" in the U.S. such as high blood pressure and being overweight, but unlike many of the measure discussed below, the solution to these problems are difficult, have causes that are often not well understood, and take a great deal of time to produce results.

In contrast, these proposals address problems whose causes and solutions are better understood, which are likely to produce significant results in a matter of months or a few years if implemented, and do not require epic levels of sustained personal fortitude to accomplish.

1.  COVID. 

We should focus on vaccinating and providing anti-viral treatment to vulnerable populations.

This is because these populations are the source of almost all COVID deaths, a very large share of COVID hospitalizations, and a disproportionate share of exceptionally severe or long lasting COVID outcomes, which both vaccinations and anti-viral treatments can profoundly mitigate, although even these measures don't eliminate all risk of these outcomes.

If we vaccinate 90% of people in vulnerable populations who haven't had a positive COVID test or a new vaccine dose within the last six months (the approximate duration of the resistance to COVID and mitigation of reinfection severity that appears to be emerging), and promptly provide the most effective anti-viral treatments to members of vulnerable populations who test positive for COVID, we could reduce COVID deaths by about 75,000 per year in the U.S.

For these purposes, vulnerable means age 65 or more, age 50 to 64 with a risk enhancing condition (e.g. obesity, diabetes, asthma), or age 5 to 49 if the person is immunocompromised or has three or more risk enhancing conditions.

2.  Motorcycle Accidents.

Motorcycles are, by far, the most dangerous means of transportation.

Mandatory helmet laws reduce deaths in motorcycle accidents by about one-third. While some states have them already, a national helmet law would still save lives.

It would also help to make it harder to get a motorcycle license (e.g. by increasing the minimum age to get such a license and increasing the rigor of practical testing requirements), because young, inexperienced motorcycle riders have the highest death rates.

These measures combined would probably save more than a thousand lives per year in the U.S. out of the roughly 5,000 motorcycle accident deaths per year in the U.S.

3.  Organ Donation.

Transplants save about 40,000 lives a year. But about 7,500 people a year die while waiting for an organ transplant. More lives, thousands of them, would be saved if permission to donate organs was conclusively presumed in everyone who doesn't affirmatively opt out of being an organ donor before an incident occurs. This would particularly reduce deaths from kidney disease. 

Italy has had great success with this policy, which has grown very popular there in the time since it has been implemented by engendering a sense that its people are supporting each other in ways that matter.

4.  Smoking Regulations.

Smoking kills hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. each year (mostly from heart disease, cancer, and lung disease) despite a greatly reduced rate of smoking from a few decades ago.

Adopting Colorado class secondary smoke exposure rules, and other forms of the most strict regulations of smoking in the U.S., would save thousands of lives a year. When strict secondary smoke exposure rules were first adopted in Colorado, the decline in deaths from conditions which exposure to smoke aggravates almost immediately declined in statistically significant amounts.

Smokers should also routinely be screened for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia (which often lead to premature death in the absence of the most exemplary treatment of it), since people with those conditions have extreme elevated likelihoods of smoking, especially now that smoking has become less common. Ways to provide nicotine without lung and cancer health risks to people with these conditions should get greater attention.

5. Nursing Home Regulation.

Many live would be saved by adopting and enforcing regulations for nursing homes including infectious disease control standards, bed sore prevention measures, measures to prevent falling deaths, and minimum standards for nursing home workers.

COVID alone has killed more than 200,000 nursing home residents and employees since the pandemic began (23% of all U.S. COVID deaths), many preventable, and that is just one of many dimensions of the problems caused by under regulated nursing homes. 

Because nursing home residents are so fragile, even modest percentage improvements in health and safety income translate into many fewer nursing home deaths and long lives on average for nursing home residents.

6. Opioid Overdoses.

There are currently more than 100,000 opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. each year, and it has steadily increased year after year for many, many years.

But the experience of places like France, Switzerland, and Portugal, suggests that better policy responses can dramatically reduce opioid deaths.

Tens of thousands of lives per year could be saved by: (1) widely training primary care physicians, physician's assistants, and registered nurses to administer medication based opioid addition treatments and authorizing them to autonomously prescribe such treatments, (2) providing Narcan and basic related first aid training to all first responders, designated libraries, and other people likely to encounter overdoses who may not have medical training, (3) establish new more restrictive standards for prescribing opioids and monitoring efforts to obtain prescriptions from multiple sources, and (4) authorize supervised clean needle situations for addicts to reduce harm (this would also reduce the risk of transmission of HIV, monkeypox, and syphilis).

7. Home Nurse Visits For Newborns Spreading Proven Best Practices

Routinely having nurses visit mothers of newborns spreading best practices like not shaking a baby and putting a baby to sleep on its back and using car seats properly has been proven to greatly reduce infant mortality, especially in demographics with elevated rates of infant mortality.

About 20,000 infants per year die in the U.S. and while some of these deaths are basically inevitable due to birth defects, but some, especially in demographics with higher rates of infant mortality are preventable. Home nurse visits have been show to be capable of making statistically significant reductions in these numbers in the U.S., and this is an area where the U.S. lags other developed nations that often use this approach to limit infant mortality.

8.  Comprehensive Support For Recent Widows and Widowers

One of the periods in which people have the highest risk of death in their lives, after infancy (from myriad causes), is in the three to six months after the death of a spouse. There are many thousands of excess deaths in this window of time in a person's life.

This time period should be one in which society pro-actively provides substantial and intrusive mental and physical health support to grieving widows and widowers. As one study in the year 2008 explained:

For both men and women, the death of a predecedent spouse from almost all causes, including various cancers, infections, and cardiovascular diseases, increased the all-cause mortality of the bereaved partner to varying degrees. Moreover, the death of a predecedent spouse from any cause increased the survivor's cause-specific mortality for almost all causes, including cancers, infections, and cardiovascular diseases, to varying degrees. . . . The increased likelihood for a recently widowed person to die—often called the “widowhood effect”—is one of the best documented examples of the effect of social relations on health. The widowhood effect has been found among men and women of all ages throughout the world. Recent longitudinal studies put the excess mortality of widowhood (compared with marriage) among the elderly between 30% and 90% in the first 3 months and around 15% in the months thereafter. These estimates are comparable across various statistical methodologies, including multivariate models that statistically control for a wide range of confounding factors, prompting increasing confidence in a causal basis of the widowhood effect. . . . 

[This study found that:] Mortality after widowhood is significantly elevated for husbands and wives. The death of a wife is associated with an 18% increase in all-cause mortality for men (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.18; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.16, 1.19), and the death of a husband is associated with a 16% increase in all-cause mortality for women (HR = 1.16; 95% CI = 1.14, 1.17), after adjusting for covariates. . . .
A wife's death exerts statistically significant effects (P < .05) on men's cause-specific hazards of death for 15 out of 17 causes of death. A wife's death increases men's cause-specific hazards of death by more than 20% for 6 causes of death (in decreasing order: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD], diabetes, accidents or serious fractures, infections or sepsis, all other known causes, and lung cancer) and for unknown causes of death. The effect exceeds 10% for 7 more causes of death (colon cancer, ischemic heart disease, congestive heart failure, nephritis or kidney disease, cerebral vascular accident or stroke, other heart and vascular diseases, and other cancers). The effects of the wife's death on the husband's hazards of death from influenza or pneumonia and Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease are not statistically significant.

A husband's death exerts statistically significant effects on women's cause-specific hazards of death for 15 out of 17 causes of death. The estimated effects exceeded 20% for 4 causes of death (COPD, colon cancer, accidents or serious fractures, and lung cancer) and for unknown causes. The effects exceeded 10% for another 7 causes (other known causes, infections or sepsis, influenza or pneumonia, nephritis or kidney disease, diabetes, other heart or vascular disease, and congestive heart failure). The impact remains statistically significant yet falls below 10% for 3 causes of death (cerebral vascular accident and stroke, ischemic heart disease, and other cancers). We did not find a statistically significant impact of the husband's death on the wife's hazard of death from rapidly fatal cancers or Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease. . . .
The death of a husband or wife is associated with a statistically significant (P < .05) increase in the all-cause mortality of the surviving partner for almost all causes of death of the predecedent spouse.

Men's hazard of death increases by more than 20% if their wives died of lung cancer, infections or sepsis, COPD, other heart or vascular diseases, or diabetes. Men's hazard of death increases by less than 20% if their wives died of any other causes. Only men whose wives died of Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease do not experience a statistically significant increase in mortality.

Women's hazard of death increases by more than 20% after widowhood only for 2 of their predecedent husbands’ causes of death: COPD and influenza or pneumonia. Women's hazard of death increases by less than 20% in response to their husbands’ deaths from all other causes. Only women whose husband died of Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease did not experience a statistically significant increase in their own mortality.

9. Widespread Adoption Of New, Best Practices Sepsis Treatments

A new highly effective treatment regime for sepsis, a type of infection common in hospitals that can be treated with what amounts to an IV flow rich in Vitamin C, can dramatically reduce deaths from complications in hospitals, which kill thousands of people each year.

Wider implementation of this treatment could save 30,000 lives a year in the U.S.

10. Suicide Reduction.

Reduce the percentage of households that own a gun by 20%. The percentage of households that own a gun is already falling anyway, so this would require more of a nudge than more bold measures.

Increase use of fast acting ketamine treatments of severe depression.

Increase the availability of inpatient mental health beds.

These policies combined could reduce suicide rates by 20-25% (i.e. 9,000 to 12,000 lives a year).

11. Housing First.

Homeless people need housing first. Without this, the percentage of the homeless who die is appallingly high.

12. Mentors For LGBT+ children

A supportive adult mentor for an LGBT child greatly reduces bad outcomes for these children including reductions in suicide.

13. Reduce The Share Of Power Generated By Coal.

Air pollution derived from coal fired electric power plants cause many deaths each year that can be reduced by transitioning to any alternative except petroleum fired electricity generation. Coal fired power plant sourced air pollution result in about 3,000 deaths per year in the U.S. (eve when ignoring its global warming impacts).

But, utility level decisions about how to generate electricity are almost invisible in the lives of day-to-day consumers.