How America Became the World's Most Anxious Country

Anxiety rates have risen in our country for the last four decades. Sociologists blame the increased number of choices we have and the failure of the mythical American meritocracy. 

What's the Latest Development?


Sociologists who measure anxiety levels of entire nations have concluded that the US is, by far, the most anxious nation on Earth. About one in three Americans can be expected to suffer anxiety at some point in their lifetime, compared with one in four Colombians, who occupy the second world-anxiety slot. Curiously, nations where people face more basic struggles in life, like securing clean water to drink, are markedly less anxious than Americans. 'According to the 2002 World Mental Health Survey, people in developing-world countries such as Nigeria are up to five times less likely to show clinically significant anxiety levels than Americans.'

What's the Big Idea?

There are two main contributing factors to America's rise in anxiety over the last four decades. One is the increased number of choices we burden ourselves with, both as our identities have become conflated with material goods (so that buying a bad pair of jeans reflects poorly on ourselves) and as we buy new technology that allows us to micromanage our lives. The second contributing factor is the failure of America's mythical meritocracy. Sociological surveys show that despite the ravenous effort we put into climbing the social ladder, and the stress and anxiety that accompany that pursuit, wealth and power tend to remain concentrated in the hands of those born into wealthy and powerful families.  

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

5 facts you should know about the world’s refugees

Many governments do not report, or misreport, the numbers of refugees who enter their country.

David McNew/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs

Conflict, violence, persecution and human rights violations led to a record high of 70.8 million people being displaced by the end of 2018.

Keep reading Show less

Are these 100 people killing the planet?

Controversial map names CEOs of 100 companies producing 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

Image: Jordan Engel, reused via Decolonial Media License 0.1
Strange Maps
  • Just 100 companies produce 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.
  • This map lists their names and locations, and their CEOs.
  • The climate crisis may be too complex for these 100 people to solve, but naming and shaming them is a good start.
Keep reading Show less

Bernie Sanders' student debt plan bails out the rich

Bernie Sanders reveals an even bigger plan than Elizabeth Warren, but does it go too far?

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Bernie Sanders has released a plan to forgive all the student debt in the country.
  • It is even larger than the plan Elizabeth Warren put forward two months ago.
  • The plan has drawn criticism for forgiving the debt of both the poor and those well off enough to pay their own debt.
Keep reading Show less