The depths of despair among US adults entering midlife


Gaydosh, Lauren; Hummer, Robert A.; Hargrove, Taylor W.; Halpern, Carolyn T.; Hussey, Jon M.; Whitsel, Eric A.; Dole, Nancy; & Harris, Kathleen Mullan (2019). The depths of despair among US adults entering midlife. American Journal of Public Health. vol. 109 (5) pp. 774-780


Objectives-To test whether indicators of despair are rising among US adults as they age toward midlife and whether this rise is concentrated among low-educated Whites and in rural areas. Methods-We used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, a nationally representative study of US adolescents in 1994. Our sample was restricted to individuals who participated in 1 or more of 5 waves (1994-2017) and self-identified as non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, or Hispanic (n=18,446). We examined change in indicators of despair from adolescence to adulthood using multilevel regression analysis, testing for differences by race/ethnicity, education, and rurality. Results. We found evidence of rising despair among this cohort over the past decade. This increase was not restricted to low-educated Whites or to rural areas. Conclusions. Results suggest that generally rising despair among the young adult cohort now reaching midlife that cuts across racial/ethnic, educational, and geographic groups may presage rising midlife mortality for these subgroups in the next decade.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

American Journal of Public Health


Gaydosh, Lauren
Hummer, Robert A.
Hargrove, Taylor W.
Halpern, Carolyn T.
Hussey, Jon M.
Whitsel, Eric A.
Dole, Nancy
Harris, Kathleen Mullan

Year Published


Volume Number


Issue Number





April 10, 2019



Reference ID