Are You Happy? It May Depend on Age, Race/Ethnicity and Other Factors

Happiness on the Decline for Several American Population Subsets - Minorities, Recent Grads and Disabled

12:00 AM EDT May 30, 2013 Rating
  • Tools

New York, N.Y. - May 30, 2013 - Has the pursuit of happiness left Americans unhappy? Maybe, according to the Harris Poll® Happiness index, which uses a series of questions to calculate Americans' overall happiness. According to findings of a Harris Poll survey of 2,345 U.S. adults surveyed online between April 10 and 15, 2013 by Harris Interactive, only a third of Americans (33%) are very happy.

Our happiness index offers insight into what's on the minds of Americans today and is a reflection of the state of affairs in our country, said Regina Corso, Senior Vice President of the Harris Poll. While the attitudes on the economy may be improving, we're seeing that this is not translating into an improvement in overall happiness. For certain groups, such as minorities, recent graduates and the disabled, they are actually sub segments of the American population where 'happiness' has trended downward in the last couple years.

The Role of Politics

Minorities show particularly pronounced declines in happiness in the two years since the Happiness Index was last measured, with especially low happiness levels observed among the Hispanic American population; while it is important to note that a causal link cannot be established, it may not be a coincidence that this drop coincides with a political landscape that has seen frequent, sometimes contentious, discussion of immigration policy in recent months. Other findings include:

A Tough Job Market

While a smaller percentage of Americans agree that their work is frustrating than two years ago (34%, vs. 39% in 2011), this may be a reflection less of higher worker satisfaction and more of a tough job market, with Americans realizing that in this economy, having a job is a good thing.

Looking at comparisons in happiness levels among Americans right now:

Turning to specific statements tested as part of the index, smaller percentages of Americans are displaying agreement that they are optimistic about the future (from 75% in 2011 to 67% in 2013), while a greater percentage than in 2011 agree that they won't get much benefit from the things that they do anytime soon (38%-42%).

The Harris Happiness Index is calculated by asking Americans if they agree or disagree with a list of statements, some positive and others negative. Those who say they strongly agree with all of the positive statements, such as my relationships with friends bring me happiness I rarely worry about my health and at this time, I'm generally happy with my life and strongly disagree with all of the negative ones, such as I frequently worry about my financial situation and I rarely engage in hobbies and pastimes I enjoy are considered very happy.

To view the full findings, or to see other recent Harris Polls, please visit the Harris Poll News Room.

 

TABLE 1

HAPPINESS INDEX

The Harris Interactive Happiness Index is calculated by taking an average (mean) of those who strongly agree with positive statements and strongly disagree with the negative ones

Base: U.S. adults

2008

2009

2010

2011

2013

All Adults

35

35

33

33

33

Gender

Men

33

34

32

31

32

Women

36

36

35

36

35

Race/Ethnicity

White

35

35

32

32

34

African-American

35

41

40

44

36

Hispanic

32

36

39

35

28

Income

$34,999 or less

32

31

28

33

29

$35,000 - $49,999

33

34

34

35

32

$50,000 - $74,999

36

39

34

30

35

$75,000-$99,999

38

36

38

29

35

$100,000+

37

38

Age

18-24

29

32

26

31

31

25-29

31

31

30

31

30

30-39

29

31

27

29

28

40-49

33

32

31

29

30

50-64

36

37

37

37

36

65+

47

45

44

42

41

Disabilities

People with disabilities

36

33

34

34

31

People without disabilities

35

36

33

34

34

Political Party

Republican

39

37

34

34

35

Democrat

33

36

34

36

35

Independent

34

33

33

32

32

Education

 

 

 

 

 

High school or less

35

33

31

32

34

Some college

35

36

35

33

32

College graduate

34

36

34

35

32

Post graduate

36

39

36

39

38

Note: indicates this was a net of $75K+ in those years

 

TABLE 2

HAPPINESS INDEX STATEMENTS

Please indicate whether you agree or disagree with the following statements.

Base: U.S. adults

AGREE

(NET)

Strongly

agree

Somewhat

agree

DISAGREE

(NET)

Somewhat

disagree

Strongly

disagree

Not at all

sure

I have positive relationships with my family members

%

90

66

24

7

5

2

3

My relationships with friends bring me happiness

%

90

56

33

8

5

2

3

At this time, I'm generally happy with my life

%

77

37

40

21

15

5

2

I feel my voice is not heard in national decisions that affect me

%

75

44

31

18

12

6

7

My spiritual beliefs are a positive guiding force to me

%

73

43

30

22

10

12

5

I'm optimistic about the future

%

67

25

41

30

20

10

4

I frequently worry about my financial situation

%

65

31

34

33

22

11

2

I rarely worry about my health

%

52

18

33

47

30

17

1

I won't get much benefit from the things that I do anytime soon

%

42

13

29

51

32

19

7

I rarely engage in hobbies and pastimes I enjoy

%

36

14

22

62

32

30

2

My work is frustrating

%

34

12

22

55

23

32

11

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding

 

TABLE 3

HAPPINESS INDEX STATEMENTS - TREND

Please indicate whether you agree or disagree with the following statements.

Percent saying Strongly/Somewhat Agree

Base: U.S. adults

2008

2009

2010

2011

2013

%

%

%

%

%

I have positive relationships with my family members

92

90

92

91

90

My relationships with friends brings me happiness

93

91

91

93

90

At this time I'm generally happy with my life

83

81

80

80

77

I feel my voice is not heard in national decisions that affect me

73

67

72

74

75

My spiritual beliefs are a positive guiding force to me

77

74

73

74

73

I'm optimistic about the future

na

na

na

75

67

I frequently worry about my financial situation

65

67

66

68

65

I rarely worry about my health

49

54

52

50

52

I won't get much benefit from the things that I do anytime soon

na

na

na

38

42

I rarely engage in hobbies and pastimes I enjoy

32

33

34

33

36

My work is frustrating

37

36

38

39

34

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between April 10 and 15, 2013 among 2,345 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Where appropriate, these data were also weighted to reflect the composition of the adult online population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

The Harris Poll® #30, May 30, 2013

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll® and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research. Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing our client's research investment. Serving clients in more than 196 countries and territories through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients - stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Rate This Article: