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A Nation of Happy People
Gallup News Service ^ | January 5, 2004 | Lydia Saad

Posted on 01/04/2004 11:47:27 PM PST by RWR8189

PRINCETON, NJ -- Happiness. As in, "life, liberty, and the pursuit of." The nation's founders considered happiness to be one of the ultimate objectives of life, so when Gallup asks Americans how happy they are it's no trivial matter.

Using the happiness standard, one would have to say the country is thriving. A Gallup Poll conducted Dec. 11-14 found a slight majority of Americans saying they are "very happy" and almost everyone saying they are at least "fairly happy." Only 4% admit to being unhappy.

Generally speaking, how happy would you say you are -- very happy, fairly happy, or not too happy?

Very
happy

Fairly
happy

Not too
happy

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

2003 Dec 11-14

55

40

4

1

 

A slightly different question in the same poll measured Americans' satisfaction with their own lives. In answer to this, a few more are negative about their personal situation with 11% saying they are either very or somewhat dissatisfied. However, the vast majority of the nation's adults are satisfied.

In general, are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way things are going in your personal life at this time? Are you very [satisfied/dissatisfied], or just somewhat [satisfied/dissatisfied]?

 

Very
satisfied

Somewhat
satisfied

Somewhat
dissatisfied

Very
dissatisfied

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2003 Dec 11-14

58

30

7

4

1

With so few Americans being unhappy, the degree of happiness serves as the major discriminator between groups. A majority of most major groups in society -- men, women, whites, nonwhites, young, old -- tell Gallup they are very happy. Gallup finds no significant difference in the percentage of people falling into these categories who say they are very happy.

On the other hand, those living in low-income households and those who are unmarried are generally less happy than their higher income and married counterparts.

Contentment Today Is Historically High

Americans' subjective sense of well being is as high today as at any time in the history of these Gallup trends. The 55% saying they are very happy today is slightly improved over the 49% recorded a year ago, and is the highest level seen across the 13 readings taken since 1956 (though the 1956-1957 readings are statistically similar to the current reading). The lowest point on this measure was seen in November 2001, just two months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when only 37% said they were very happy.

 
Happiness Trend
alt

 

Gallup first asked about personal satisfaction in 1979, and has updated it fairly frequently. The following graph ranks these ratings from high to low, showing that across the 45 ratings, the current one, with 88% saying they are satisfied, is the most positive. This is statistically similar to several readings of 87% and 86% recorded between 1988 and 2000. The least positive was recorded in July 1979 when only 73% were satisfied.

 
Personal Satisfaction Trend
Ratings Listed From High to Low
alt

 

Does Money Buy Happiness?

The higher one's household income the more likely one is to say he or she is satisfied with the way things are going in his or her personal life, but the correlation between income and happiness is less clear.

Deep happiness is found in roughly equal measure among a majority of adults living in most household income groups (between 55% and 60% say they are very happy), and only drops below this level among those earning less than $30,000 per year (44%).

By contrast, there is a clear linear correlation between income and personal satisfaction. The percent saying they are very satisfied with the way things are going in their lives rises from 41% among those earning less than $30,000 to 53% among those in the $30,000 to $49,999 bracket, and reaches 75% among those making more than $75,000.

It appears that Americans are more likely to think financially when asked to reflect on their "personal lives," than when asked to rate their "happiness."

 
Happiness and Satisfaction: by Income
alt
Dec. 11-14, 2003

 

Marital Bliss?

Marriage is clearly associated with happiness. Only 45% of unmarried adults, compared with 62% of married ones say they are very happy.

Happiness by Marital Status

Married

Not married

%

%

Very happy

62

45

Fairly happy

35

48

Not happy

3

6

The "unmarried" category includes people who are widowed, divorced, separated, and never married, as well as those living together with a partner. But regardless of the exact situation, all of these groups are less likely to be very happy than are those who are currently married. Nor is age an explanatory factor. As noted earlier, age is not correlated with personal happiness, as between 53% and 57% of people in all age groups say they are very happy.

The Politics of Contentment

Even when accounting for partisan differences in marital status and household income, Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats and independents to be very happy.

Happiness by Political Party ID

Republicans

Independents

Democrats

%

%

%

Very happy

62

49

50

Fairly happy

35

47

41

Not happy

3

4

7

Why Republicans are happier is not clear, but the result has been the same in nearly every asking of this measure since 1996, including one reading under former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, and three under Republican President George W. Bush. Only in 1996 did Republicans and Democrats express about equal levels of happiness.

Percentage Very Happy, by Party ID

Republican

Independent

Democrat

%

%

%

2003 Dec 11-14

62

49

50

2002 Dec 5-8

59

42

46

2001 Nov 8-11

42

33

37

2000 Oct 6-9

53

44

45

1996 Mar 8-10

52

46

50

 

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,011 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Dec. 11-14. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

4. In general, are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way things are going in your personal life at this time?

 

Satis-
fied

Dis-
satisfied

No
opinion

Satis-
fied

Dis-
satisfied

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2003 Dec 11-14

88

11

1

1990 Oct 11-14

82

16

2

1990 Sep

85

13

2

2003 Jan 13-16

85

14

1

1990 Aug 30-Sep 2

86

12

2

2002 Dec 5-8

83

16

1

1990 Jul

81

17

2

2002 Jan 7-9

85

14

1

1990 Feb

83

16

1

2001 Dec 6-9

84

15

1

1990 Aug 9-12

85

13

2

2001 Jan 10-14

85

14

1

1988 Sep

87

12

1

2000 Oct 6-9

87

12

1

1988 May

80

16

4

1998 Dec 28-29

86

13

1

1987 Aug

83

15

2

1996 Mar 8-10

86

12

2

1986 Sep

84

14

2

1993 Dec 4-6

82

17

1

1986 Mar

84

15

1

1992 Feb 28-Mar 1

79

20

1

1985 Nov

82

17

1

1992 Jan 3-6

77

22

1

1984 Dec

79

17

4

1991 Nov

79

19

2

1984 Feb

79

19

2

1991 Oct

81

18

1

1983 Aug

77

20

3

1991 Aug

82

16

2

1982 Nov

75

23

2

1991 Feb 28-Mar 3

87

12

1

1982 Apr

76

22

2

1991 Feb 14-17

84

15

1

1981 Dec

81

17

2

1991 Jan 17-20

86

12

2

1981 Jun

81

16

3

1991 Jan 3-6

84

14

2

1981 Jan

81

17

2

1990 Dec 13-16

82

18

*

1979 Nov

79

19

2

1990 Nov

85

13

2

1979 Jul

73

23

4

1990 Oct 25-28

87

11

2

1979 Feb

77

21

2

5. Are you very [satisfied/dissatisfied], or just somewhat [satisfied/dissatisfied]?

COMBINED RESPONSES (Q.4-5)

 

Very
satisfied

Somewhat
satisfied

Somewhat
dissatis-
fied

Very dissatis-
fied

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2003 Dec 11-14

58

30

7

4

1

2003 Jan 13-16

58

27

9

5

1

2002 Dec 5-8

50

33

11

5

1

2002 Jan 7-9

56

29

9

5

1

2001 Dec 6-9

54

30

10

5

1

2001 Jan 10-14

56

29

10

4

1

6. Generally speaking, how happy would you say you are -- very happy, fairly happy, or not too happy?

 

Very
happy

Fairly
happy

Not too
happy

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

2003 Dec 11-14

55

40

4

1

2002 Dec 5-8

49

44

6

1

2001 Nov 8-11

37

52

11

*

2000 Oct 6-9

47

47

5

1

1996 Mar 8-10

49

46

5

*

1992 Feb 28-Mar 1

43

47

9

1

1991 Feb 21

44

45

10

1

1982 Dec 10

50

43

6

*

1981 Dec 11

44

51

5

*

1981 Jun 5

46

43

10

1

1977 Nov 4

42

48

10

1

1957 Mar 5 ^

53

43

3

*

1956 Sep 20 ^

53

42

5

*

* Less than 0.5%.

^ Third response category different wording: "or not very happy."



TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: GALLUP; HAPPINESS; POLLS

1 posted on 01/04/2004 11:47:28 PM PST by RWR8189
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To: RWR8189
I ecstatic !!
2 posted on 01/04/2004 11:56:17 PM PST by chicagolady (Jesus, Be my Magnificent Obsession)
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To: All

Donate Here By Secure Server

3 posted on 01/04/2004 11:56:57 PM PST by Support Free Republic (Hi Mom! Hi Dad!)
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To: RWR8189
your columns are not lining up. Its funny. Makes me happier.
4 posted on 01/05/2004 12:03:36 AM PST by GeronL (The French just can't stop being French.)
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To: RWR8189
"Only 4% admit to being unhappy."

Hmmmm.... either we have more than our fair share or Gallup doesn't read FR.

5 posted on 01/05/2004 12:03:56 AM PST by Jim Robinson (I don't belong to no organized political party. I'm a Republycan.)
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To: Howlin; JohnHuang2; Sabertooth; Travis McGee
Hey you guys are happy, right??
6 posted on 01/05/2004 12:04:24 AM PST by GeronL (The French just can't stop being French.)
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To: Jim Robinson
aren't you happy?
7 posted on 01/05/2004 12:05:27 AM PST by GeronL (The French just can't stop being French.)
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To: Jim Robinson
either we have more than our fair share or Gallup doesn't read FR.

Or being contrary makes them happy.

8 posted on 01/05/2004 12:06:30 AM PST by Flyer (Using robots to explore space is like using web cams to take a vacation)
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To: GeronL
Who me? I'm happy as happy can be. Ought to be a law against having too much happiness. LOL
9 posted on 01/05/2004 12:07:20 AM PST by Jim Robinson (I don't belong to no organized political party. I'm a Republycan.)
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To: Jim Robinson
They're happy being grouchy. And being grouchy on FR makes them even happier.
10 posted on 01/05/2004 12:08:07 AM PST by MattAMiller (Saddam has been brought to justice in my name. How about yours?)
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To: Flyer
That's it in a nutshell. Some people just aren't happy unless they're unhappy.
11 posted on 01/05/2004 12:08:32 AM PST by Jim Robinson (I don't belong to no organized political party. I'm a Republycan.)
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To: chicagolady
I'm very, very Happy!
12 posted on 01/05/2004 12:10:22 AM PST by Happy2BMe (2004 - Who WILL the TERRORISTS vote for? - - Not George W. Bush, THAT'S for sure!)
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To: Jim Robinson
Ought to be a law against having too much happiness

The liberals are working on that, those grumpy gusses

13 posted on 01/05/2004 12:12:09 AM PST by GeronL (The French just can't stop being French.)
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To: MattAMiller
I'm happier than a squirrel at a nutfarm.... happier than a drug dealer at the Democrat National Convention, happier than a hot dog vender at a fat farm...
14 posted on 01/05/2004 12:14:08 AM PST by GeronL (The French just can't stop being French.)
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To: Jim Robinson; Flyer; MeeknMing

15 posted on 01/05/2004 12:14:55 AM PST by Happy2BMe (2004 - Who WILL the TERRORISTS vote for? - - Not George W. Bush, THAT'S for sure!)
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To: Happy2BMe
I would have guess that from your screen name.
16 posted on 01/05/2004 12:17:37 AM PST by McGavin999
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To: Happy2BMe

17 posted on 01/05/2004 12:32:32 AM PST by MattAMiller (Saddam has been brought to justice in my name. How about yours?)
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To: GeronL
It's hard to type with all this happy dancing I'm doing.
18 posted on 01/05/2004 12:34:43 AM PST by MattAMiller (Saddam has been brought to justice in my name. How about yours?)
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To: MattAMiller
It take fewer muscles to smile than it does to frown.

:~)

19 posted on 01/05/2004 12:35:37 AM PST by Happy2BMe (2004 - Who WILL the TERRORISTS vote for? - - Not George W. Bush, THAT'S for sure!)
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To: RWR8189
Why Republicans are happier is not clear, but the result has been the same in nearly every asking of this measure since 1996, including one reading under former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, and three under Republican President George W. Bush. Only in 1996 did Republicans and Democrats express about equal levels of happiness

Because were right about most things and we know it our beliefs in God ,Guns ,Guts and Country keep us happy we don't whine we take responsibility and get the job done.

Unlike most of our counterparts on the left .

20 posted on 01/05/2004 12:38:35 AM PST by ATOMIC_PUNK (I'm still pissed about 911 its a grudge that will be hard to shake)
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To: RWR8189
One respondent, from South Dakota, described himself as being "disappointed" and "saddened."
21 posted on 01/05/2004 5:46:52 AM PST by Freemyland
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To: Happy2BMe
LOL ! I can hear him singin' his song now:

I love trash ! ...




22 posted on 01/05/2004 7:23:01 AM PST by MeekOneGOP (Howie Dean in the South !!: http://Richard.Meek.home.comcast.net/IowaRatsLastMealNewDeal.JPG)
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To: RWR8189
Using the happiness standard, one would have to say the country is thriving. A Gallup Poll conducted Dec. 11-14 found a slight majority of Americans saying they are "very happy" and almost everyone saying they are at least "fairly happy." Only 4% admit to being unhappy.

Tommy Daschle is a four percenter.

23 posted on 01/05/2004 7:24:50 AM PST by dirtboy (Howard Dean - all bike and no path)
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To: RWR8189
A Nation of Happy People
Most are happy and satisfied with their lives

by Lydia Saad

You can't make this stuff up, folks.

24 posted on 01/05/2004 7:26:54 AM PST by Cincinatus (Omnia relinquit servare Republicam)
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