Uncertainty, Not Poverty, Behind Recession Blues

It's not the lack of funds, it's the lack of knowing that brings us down
By Clay Dillow,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2009 8:32 AM CDT
Uncertainty, Not Poverty, Behind Recession Blues
Unemployed men queuing outside a Salvation Army hostel, circa 1935.   (Getty Images)

Americans are worrying more than they were last year, and happiness is down while sadness is up, writes Daniel Gilbert in the New York Times. But it’s not the lightness of our pocketbooks that’s weighing on us; it’s the uncertainty of the times. While most of us still have more than our grandparents ever did, the possibility of losing it makes us sick.

“People feel worse when something bad might occur than when something bad will occur,” Gilbert says. For instance, Canadian researchers found a group told it was likely to develop Huntington’s disease was happier a year later than a group that learned the possibility but not the risk. “Our national gloom is real enough, but it isn’t a matter of insufficient funds,” he concludes. “It’s a matter of insufficient certainty.” (Read more financial crisis stories.)

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