How Healthy Are We?: A National Study of Well-Being at Midlife

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Orville Gilbert Brim, Carol D. Ryff, Ronald C. Kessler
University of Chicago Press, Jan 15, 2004 - Health & Fitness - 687 pages
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Childhood, adolescence, even the "twilight years" have been extensively researched and documented. But the vast terrain known as midlife—the longest segment of the life course—has remained uncharted. How physically and psychologically healthy are Americans at midlife? And why do some experience greater well-being than others?

The MacArthur Foundation addressed these questions head-on by funding a landmark study known as "Midlife in the U.S.," or MIDUS. For the first time in a single study, researchers were able to integrate epidemiological, sociological, and psychological assessments, as well as innovative new measures to evaluate how work and family life influence each other.

How Healthy Are We? presents the key findings from the survey in three sections: physical health, quality of life and psychological well-being, and the contexts (family, work) of the midlife. The topics covered by almost forty scholars in a wide variety of fields are vast, including everything from how health and well-being vary with socioeconomic standing, gender, race, or region of the country to how middle-aged people differ from younger or older adults in their emotional experience and quality of life. This health—the study measures not only health-the absence of illness—but also reports on the presence of wellness in middle-aged Americans.

The culmination of a decade and a half of research by leading scholars, How Healthy Are We? will dramatically alter the way we think about health in middle age and the factors that influence it. Researchers, policymakers, and others concerned about the quality of midlife in contemporary America will welcome its insights.

* Having a good life means having good relationships with others to almost 70% of those surveyed. Less than 40% mentioned their careers.

* Reports of disruptive daily stressors vary by age, with young adults and those in midlife experiencing more than those in later adulthood.

* Men have higher assessments of their physical and mental health than woman until the age of 60.
 

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How healthy are we?: a national study of well-being at midlife

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This important book reports the findings of a landmark study 16 years in the making. Funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, "Midlife in the U.S." (a.k.a. MIDUS) was undertaken ... Read full review

Contents

Acknowledgments
1
MIDLIFE PERSPECTIVES ON PHYSICAL HEALTH
11
Sex Differences in Health over the Course of Midlife
37
Socioeconomic Position and Health across Midlife
64
The Role
90
Health WellBeing and Social Responsibility in
124
The Menopausal Transition and Aging Processes
153
Positive and Negative Affect at Midlife
205
Ethnic Conservatism Psychological WellBeing and
373
Profiles
398
WORK AND FAMILY
423
Work Family and Social Class
485
Family Roles and WellBeing during the Middle
514
Social Responsibility to Family and Community
550
Turning Points in Adulthood
586
Core Features
614

Age and Depression in the MIDUS Survey
227
The Quality of American Life at the End of the Century
252
WellBeing at Midlife among High
273
The Adaptive Value of Feeling in Control during Midlife
320
A Descriptive
350
List of Contributors
651
Author Index
659
Subject Index
675
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About the author (2004)

Orville Gilbert Brim is the former director of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Midlife Development. Carol D. Ryff is a professor of psychology and director of the Institute on Aging at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Ronald C. Kessler is a professor in the Department of Health Care Policy at the Harvard Medical School.