After having a particularly trying couple of weeks, I decided that I needed to brush up on my data searching skills. Lame? Maybe…But insightful? Always… I never fail to learn something new and random when browsing data and statistics. Not everything in this world is collected and measured by an institution that can be considered “reliable”, but there is some pretty strange stuff out there that is collected. Institutions collect data that they feel is important to them in some ways, and many of the big places like the CDC, DLS and Census can provide a pretty interesting picture of our history in many different aspects of the human realm. Seeing as I’m grumpy and all, I came across something that caught my eye. Something called, ironically enough, The Misery Index.
Data Planet provided information about the United States Misery Index number from 1947-2017, and surprisingly it looks like “misery” peaked sometime near 1981. I wasn’t sure what these numbers even mean though. What does a misery index score of 5 mean? Where did they get this information from?
Here’s the background from Data Planet:
Reports the Misery Index, a calculated measure of economic health based on the inflation rate and the unemployment rate. The Misery Index was created originally by economist Arthur Okun in the 1960s as the Economic Discomfort Index. Ronald Reagan is attributed to its renaming. The index is a calculated measure of economic health of a nation that sums the inflation rate and the unemployment rate. Data-Planet utilizes Bureau of Labor Statistics data to calculate the statistics presented here. (Data-Planet, 2017).
Basically you add the unemployment rate to the inflation rate and there is your index number. When I look at the numbers, I’m kind of surprised that the recession of 2007 didn’t match the misery index numbers of the early 80’s. Looks like that one was worse than the one that I had experienced. I hear a lot about these things being cyclical, markets, money, inflation, etc. I’m not very well studied in the area of economics, but it’s important historically to understand the basic premise for why these things happen, so we have a better chance of avoiding or preparing for it.I guess the Misery Index only deals with “financial” misery, which I suppose IS the overall cause of misery for many of us out there, even though we try to remember that money isn’t everything most people I know struggle with it, myself included.
Now that I’ve depressed you with talk of the financial struggles, recession, and overall misery, here’s a fun fact… 55-64 year olds in the US appear to be taking better care of their natural teeth in in recent years. In 2001 the % of 55-64 year olds wearing dentures was 15.8%, by 2010 that percentage decreased to 10.5 %. That’s more than a 5% decrease! What great news, and what a time to be alive with all this modern dentistry.
In other things that are awesome in the US it appears that we have done a good job in nearly eradicating the Sexually Transmitted Disease Chancroid, which peaked at 5,000 cases a year in 1987 then shrank substantially sometime in the early 2000’s clocking only 25 cases in 2008. I don’t even think we learned about this one in school, I’ve never heard of it. (Not that I’m an expert in STD’s or anything but…) This may be another one for another day, but if you are interested in what the hell Chancroid is take a peek here:
Data-Planet (2017-05-06). Misery Index: Misery Index, 01/1948 – 04/2017.Data-Planet™ Statistical Datasets by Conquest Systems, Inc. [Data-file]. Dataset-ID:077-003-001
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013-01-15). Dentures: Currently Wearing Dentures | Age: 55-64 years | Race/Ethnicity: All | Gender: All Genders, 2001 – 2010. Data-Planet™ Statistical Datasets by Conquest Systems, Inc. [Data-file]. Dataset-ID: 005-044-001
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008-10-18). Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Rates: STD Count | Gender: All Genders | Standard Name*: Chancroid, 1984 – 2008.Data-Planet™ Statistical Datasets by Conquest Systems, Inc. [Data-file]. Dataset-ID:005-020-001