Why So Stressed

WHY SO STRESSED….While we’re talking about global competitiveness, Richard Florida’s new book, The Flight of the Creative Class, is relevant and quite interesting, and I’ll try to write more about it later today. But for now, take a peek at some of the book’s fun statistics about stress levels in various countries. The numbers are based on this JAMA study, and Florida argues?sensibly enough?that citizens in “stressed out” countries are less able to harness their creativity and put it to good productive uses.

So here’s a sampling of countries and the percentage of their citizens suffering from some form of clinically diagnosed (even if it hasn’t been treated) mental disorder:

United States: 26.4 percent
Ukraine: 20.5
France: 18.4
Colombia: 17.8
Lebanon: 16.9
Belgium: 12.0
Germany: 9.1
Beijing: 9.1

Amazing. The United States is more stressed out than Lebanon. Lebanon! Just thinking about Lebanese politics sort of stresses me out. And Colombia too. Some other surprises: We all know why Germans are so mellow (that lush welfare state, no doubt), and why the French are so neurotic (too much existentialism), but what explains why Beijing has so little stress? One would imagine middle-class China to be very similar to India, where, I’m told, a billion people are competing in a rat race for the 100 million or so good jobs. But the JAMA study doesn’t cover India, and my only data points here are a few Indians I know plus that crazy kid from Spellbound. Further irresponsible conjecture is of course welcome.