The American Dream has become more of a nightmare since the early 1990s, according to a new survey of US misery.

The new study by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago has found that the number of troubles Americans report has increased.

Chief among these are more incidents of illness, inability to afford medical care, unemployment, pressure to pay bills, and unstable romantic relationships.

Fewer people are, however, reporting trouble getting a car or trouble with crime and the law.

A news release reports:

Overall, the number of people reporting at least one significant negative life event increased to 92 percent from 88 percent in 1991, the last time the survey was done. Likewise, the total level of troubles grew by 15 percent. Individual problems were not evenly spread among the population, however. Troubles are greatest among those with low income and less education, younger adults, and families with a high child-to-adult dependency ratio (mostly unmarried mothers).

The report, "Troubles in America: A Study of Negative Life Events Across Time and Sub –groups," is part of the General Social Survey, in-person interviews of 2,817 people 18 and older, randomly chosen to represent a cross section of Americans. Of that group, 1,340 were asked about negative events in their lives.

The questions were based on social science research that tracks the impact of negative life events. "Those events are associated with and apparently lead to depression and anxiety as well as physical illnesses, such as heart attacks and increased infections," said study author Tom W. Smith, Director of the General Social Survey.

The negative life events, though personal in nature, have ramifications throughout society, research shows. "Essentially, since experiencing more negative events makes individuals less well off, then, in the aggregate, having more individuals suffering more negative events means society is less well-off," Smith said.

Research at the state and local level has connected negative life events with problems such as homicide, alcoholism, and suicide.

More here.

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