Why Are So Many Young People Unhappy?

"Though people have more money, better health care, better health, better housing and more education, and live longer than at any time in history, they — especially young people — are unhappier than at any time since data collection began." - National Review

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Aaron Blumer's picture


I think there might be a flaw in the analysis. He looks at dramatically higher suicide rates and concludes young people in general are unhappier.

But what if a large majority are about the same as always and a minority of unhappy kids are more intensely unhappy than in the past? We would see the same kinds of numbers.

Quantitatively, we could have the same percentage of unhappy and happy kids, but with a qualitative decrease of happiness among those unhappy ones.

There are other possible ways to read the data as well, I'm sure.

Bert Perry's picture

My take on Prager's numbers is that suicide numbers are a problematic indication of depression because so many suicides simply weren't mentioned as such prior to the last couple of decades; it was only mentioned, really, if it was way too obvious to hide.  You see a lot of the same thing with cancer statistics and certain accidents.  

But that noted, when a huge portion of the population is on SSRIs like Prozac, one would figure you could make the case that there's a lot of sadness simply on verifiable facts like that, or the divorce rate, or such.  

The interesting thing with that is that, while you can point to a number of people who do seem to have real triggers for depression, or legitimate reasons to be depressed, sometimes you've got people where there is no clear proximate, let alone ultimate, cause.  

Does faith and community help?  Absolutely.  No less than the Mayo Clinic agrees.  I just think Prager's "it's worse than ever before" is going to be awfully hard to prove.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Aaron Blumer's picture


... or he could be right.

But yes, hard to prove.

Related: well, imagine this--people who feel less entitled and are able to be consciously grateful are happier! What a surprise! Wink

Reflecting on Gratitude

Grateful teens are happy teens. According to research conducted by Giacomo Bono, Ph.D., a professor at California State University, being grateful reaps many mental health benefits for teens. The most grateful 20 percent of the teens in Dr. Bono’s study of 700 people were 15 percent more likely than the least grateful 20 percent to have a sense of meaning in their lives and had a 15 percent lower likelihood of having depressive symptoms. The study concluded that parents and teachers should help teens cultivate gratitude, which may bring with it vital skills such as cooperation and perseverance. Teens who are able to develop gratitude tend to feel better about their lives, and grateful teens are more connected to others. https://www.liveabout.com/happy-teens-not-a-myth-2774102


David R. Brumbelow's picture

Children and Church

 “Children or teens who reported attending a religious service at least once per week scored higher on psychological well-being measurements and had lower risks of mental illness.  Weekly attendance was associated with higher rates of volunteering, a sense of mission, forgiveness, and lower probabilities of drug use and early sexual initiation.” 

-Psychoanalyst Erica Komisar referring to long-range Harvard study of 5,000.  WORLD magazine, 12-28-2019. 

David R. Brumbelow