So Harris just came out with its annual Happiness Index in which we analyze broadly how America is progressing in its age-old quest for life satisfaction. Research (at Harris and otherwise) has correlated happiness with many traits including age, marital status, income, and race/ethnicity.
And this latest poll is no exception.
Over the past year, America’s overall Happiness score has decreased by 2 percentage points from 35% to 33%. And “happiness” has gone down for every group except: those earning $75K in household income per year, married women, and Hispanic adults. Today:
- Women are more likely to be happy than men are (35% vs. 32%);
- Married women are much more likely to be happy than single women are (39% vs. 30%);
- Seniors are more likely to be happy than their Gen X or Y counterparts are (26% for those ages 18-24; 30% for those ages 25-29; 27% for those ages 30-39; 31% for those 40-49; 37% for those 50-64 and 44% for those 65+).
- Those with greater affluence (38%) appear to be happier than those with less (28%).
- Both African Americans (40%) and Hispanics (39%) appear to be happier than Whites (32%).
What underlies the slight overall change and the demographic differences above is tough to say. I would argue that many things (not addressed in this survey) like productive and valuable employment, physical health, loving relationships, spirituality and perhaps even pet ownership all contribute vastly more to our happiness than any of the demographic traits measured.
However, it appears from the Harris Poll that relationships with family/friends, spirituality and leisure activities have remained relatively unchanged (and on the whole satisfying) over the past year.
There has been some slightly more elevated concern regarding work and health. But, the big change (to the negative) appears to be with political happiness. More adults today say they don’t feel their voice is heard in national decisions. Whether it be health care reform, gays in the military, off-shore drilling, or financial regulation, the percentage of adults dissatisfied with their impact on politics looks more like 2008 than it does like Obama’s halcyon post-election days in mid-2009.
What makes you happy? The Bills winning the Super Bowl? Bi bim bop from the Korean restaurant down the street? Lucinda Williams live in Central Park?
Oh right, that’s me.