Study finds people are divided on whether life is better now than 50 years ago.

Is life Better than now than it was 50 years ago? The answer may depend on the economy according to a study done by the  Pew research centre. The study that was done in 2017 found that worldwide people are divided on whether life is better now than 50 years ago.

Key Points from the study

  • Pew research centre put the question to nearly 43,000 people in 38 countries
  • The results of the survey are based on a face to face interview conducted under the directions of D3 systems.
  • 88% of people from Vietnam, 69% of Indians and 68% of South Koreans say life is better today. These are countries that have seen a dramatic shift in economic transformation since the late 60s. Not to mention armed conflicts.
  • 41% of American say life is worse while only 37% of people say life is better now that it was 50 years ago.
  • Views of the current state of the economy where a reliable indicator of whether life for is better than 50 years ago.
  • Latin American countries like Venezuela and Mexico had a generally negative assessment of progress over the last 50 years.
  • In more than half the countries polled, people with more education say that, for people like them, life is better than it was a half-century ago.

The results are somewhat surprising in that 41% of American think life is worse now that it was 50 years ago. It would be interesting to know the racial demographics and the political leanings of the people that were surveyed in America. Other studies have indicated that political leanings tend to affects your outlook on life. For example, a study done by the American Enterprise Institute found that conservatives tend to be happier with the state of the economy than liberals.

Another study done by the New York University found that Conservative ( right wingers) were happier than liberals (or left-wingers) on average. The study found that the rationalisation of Inequality as a core component of conservative ideology that helps to explain why conservatives are on average happier than liberals. The study also found that rising inequality takes a higher toll on the psychology of liberals. Liberals also tend to view disparities in a negative light than conservatives. The researchers in the study found that countries that were more upbeat about the economy where more likely to say life for them is better than those from poor countries.

This conclusion leads us to ask one simple question. Why is it that  47% of Americans studied view life now worse than it was 50 years ago? Especially when you consider how well the economy is doing. According to CNN money report, the US economy grew 2.3% in 2017, Americans, were shopping more and businesses where investing.  In the same year, the study was done, American saw a reduction in unemployment, as more and people went back to work.

Why are Americans unhappy?

Studying happiness is very hard, this is because happiness is dependant on some changing variables.  Studying happiness requires researchers to follow a large number people over a period of time, this is very expensive and time-consuming. How a person feels is dependant on many factors, for example, health, social, economic status, marital status and the environment a person finds themselves in.  For example,  raising children with two parents that work tends to produce well adjusted happier children, than children from single parents homes. Moreover, the things people value and cherish and often brings them happiness is different between individuals and sexes. What happiness means for Black would be different from Indians.

Keeping that in mind, here are some of the reasons Americans are unhappy.

Firstly, over medication, America is the most over-medicated country in the world followed by Iceland according to Business Insider. The CDC reckons the rise could be due to the massive marketing of drugs by pharmaceutical companies. However, use of antidepressants tends to be an accurate indicator of the levels of depression in a country. In 2016, an estimated 16.7 million Americans above the age of eighteen had at least one major depressive episode.  The prevalence of depression was higher in adult females 8.7% than males 4.8%. Figures also show that depression was higher in individuals between the age of 18 and 25.

Secondly, inequality, according to CNN Money, the top one percent of the American population control 36% of the wealth. The bottom 90% of the American population only hold 22% of the wealth. The levels of inequality in a country are associated with high levels of crime and as the study points out negative emotions. No one disputes that inequality is a problem and that you cannot have that amount of wealth concentrated in a small number of people.

The question then is how do you reduce inequality, without turning the country into a communist state.  Redistribution of wealth only works in countries with a small population like Ice land and Finland. But for countries like America, India and China wealth inequality would be hard to achieve because of the population density. And even then there is no guarantee that this would deal with the problem of inequality. And no one has been able to come up with a robust solution to reduce the wealth disparity other than increase taxes.

Thirdly, people are more stressed than they were 50 years. According to the American psychology association, 63 percent of American are stressed about the future of the nation. Interesting in the study was that the top stressors were not Job security, but rather people were stressed about the general future of the country, this trend was evident across all political lines. 73% of Democrats in 2017 were more stressed about the country future than Republican 56%. And among independents, 56% were stressed about the future.

Furthermore, the current political divide has the majority of Americans very stressed, the election of Donald Trump is what amplified the political divide. 50 years ago, even though Republicans and Democrats disagreed on a lot of issues, at least the talked. We have a media that is more concentrated on Stormy Daniels and what Kanye West said than reporting on the News that matters. We have politicians that are so afraid of political ramifications, that they do not serve the people that elected them into office.

Finally, here is a list of things people should be thankful for

  • People are not as racists as they were 100 years ago, people may disagree with this statement but look at least Black people can walk down the streets now without fear of being lynched.
  • The poorest person now is still better than the poorest person 100 years ago
  • People’s overall quality of life is better
  • The is a lot more accountability in public service now than 100 years ago.
  • People are living longer thanks to advancement in medicine and science.
  • we have laws protecting minorities and the most vulnerable
  • Violence has gone down according to a recent study by Steven Pinker.

When you watch the news, you would be forgiven to think the world is coming to an end, but in actual fact, things are not as bad as they seem.

Why then are people so Unhappy?