Pity the Rich

From the Oregonian, followed by a letter:

Suniya S. Luthar, a psychology and education professor at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York, says her studies indicate drug and alcohol use is clearly higher among affluent kids, for reasons beyond having more money.

With wealth comes a different kind of pressure to achieve and fit in.

Luthar has spent a decade studying teenagers at both wealthy suburban middle and high schools and poorer, inner-city schools. She’s found that boys in the wealthier environments tie popularity directly to heavy drinking and drug use.

Wealthier teens of both genders have significantly greater anxiety than their poorer counterparts, which turns them to drugs as self-medication. Girls from more affluent schools were three times more likely to report depression. Nearly half of seventh-graders in upscale neighborhoods were regularly left unsupervised after school.

It’s not an unmitigated blessing to be smart, to be well-educated, to be committed to doing your job well,” Luthar said. “We’re talking oftentimes about parents with extremely demanding, high-pressure careers who have to make difficult and painful decisions. And these kids do get busy with activities. Sometimes parents and families have to work hard to spend some calm time together.”

The assumptions of researcher Suniya Luthar, quoted in the story on Lincoln High School’s drug abuse problem are simply unbelievable.

“Wealthier teens” have more anxiety than poor teens? Sure, because poor teens are some sort of lesser species, right? They couldn’t possible have the same types of feelings as rich kids. And what do poor kids have to worry about? Sure, they might not live in the nicest house (or apartment) or in the safest neighborhood, they might get picked on for having second-hand clothes, and even if they got into a decent college there might not be any way their parents could pay for it, but what’s that to the “kind of pressure to achieve and fit in” that wealthy kids face?

Girls from “affluent schools” are more likely to “report depression”? Some people might think that would be because affluent schools had more counselors and better communication between faculty and students but the affluence probably doesn’t exhibit itself that way.

And there’s no possible way that a kid from a non-wealthy, non-affluent background could possibly be smart, well-educated, or committed to doing their job well. It seems inconceivable.

Apparently the wealthy have genetically diverged to become more refined in their emotions, even as children. I guess the rich really are different from the rest of us.