There was actually a 20/20 or dateline (can't remember which) special on "are things worse now than they were before" that compared 50 years ago, 100 years ago and 200 years ago on all sorts of planes like healthcare, natural disasters, war, famine, etc. The conclusion was no things are a lot better now than they used to be.
I think the issue here is change. People do not like change and they see things in perspective of "the good old days" seeing only what distresses them and not all the improvements. Similarly they don't remember the problems and discomforts of their own era but only the good times.