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Monday, January 02, 2006
Americans seem to be getting more miserable, University of Chicago, researchers have determined.

A survey found the percentage of people who have suffered at least one "Negative life event" such as getting fired, divorced or hospitalized -- increased to 91.5 percent in 2004 from 89.1 percent in 1991.

On average, people experienced 4.3 negative events in 2004, up from .38 in 1991.

"We're somewhat more troubled", said study director Tom Smith of the unversity's National Opinion Research Center.

The 2004 survey included 2,817 adults randomly selected from 400 representative neighborhoods throughout the United States. The response rate was 70.4 percent.

The most serious problems a person can experience in life is the death of a child.

Researchers from the National Opinion Research Center asked respondents to rank 58 problems on a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 representing the "very least serious" and 100 the "very most serious".

The ten most serious problems were, in order:

* Death of a child: 94.3.
* Death of a spouse: 92.6.
* Unable to buy needed food: 90.1.
* Death of a parent: 89/7.
* Home destroyed or heavily damaged from fire, flood, etc.: 89.4.
* Unable to afford needed medical care: 89.
* Child on drugs or has drinking problem: 87.6.
* Being arrested: 86.9.
* Being accused of something that could send you to jail: 86.8.
* Being homeless: 86.7.

A sampling of other scores:

* Ill enough to go to a doctor: 51.6.
* Serious trouble with the boss: 65.2.
* Being unemployed as long as one month: 73.1.
* Experiencing discrimination because of race, nationality, sex, etc: 76.1.
* Falling behind in rent or mortgage: 76.1
* A drinking problem: 76.9.
* Getting fired or laid off: 77.5.
* Lacking health insurance: 79.4.
* Having serious trouble with a child: 80.9.

The overall troubles score, nicknamed the Misery Index, was 312 in 2004. That's a 15 percent increase over the 1991 Misery Index.

Among the findings:

* People with low income or little education tended to have more troubles.
* Whites had fewer troubles than blacks or Hispanics.
* Overall, widows and widowers had the fewest troubles, followed in order by people who were married, divorced, never married and currently separated.
* Troubles declined with age, with retirees experiencing the fewest troubles.

The economy boomed during the 1990's, so why didn't we get happier?
One reason maybe that most of the monetary gains went to a relative few at the top. It's possible that welfare reform and other changes in social programs made it more difficult for people on the bottoms to cope, Smith said.

Researchers did not ask respondents about happy events, such as getting married or finding a better job. Smith explained that compared with negative events, happy events have less of an effect on a person's physical and psychological well being.

(Source: University of Chocago's Natinal Opinion Research center/ by: Jim Ritter. Health Reporter/SUNTIMES)
* Getting divorced: 84.5.
posted by infraternam meam @ 2:47 AM  
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Name: infraternam meam
Home: Chicago, United States
About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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