Poll: Americans Are Less Happy Now Than They Were in 2011

Who's happier: Republicans or Democrats? Women or Men? The Happiness Index has the answers

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If happiness is a state of mind, then it looks like Americans need to change their outlook.

Happiness — particularly among minorities, recent graduates and the disabled — has declined in the U.S. over the past two years, according to the latest Harris Poll Happiness Index.

In an online survey of 2,345 adults, only 36% of African-Americans gave answers that classified them as “very happy” — a slump from 44% in 2011, when the last Happiness Index was conduct. That’s comparable to 34% of whites. Roughly the same decrease in happiness was observed in Hispanic Americans, with only 28% identifying as “very happy”. The lower percentage on the later group, the poll points out, could be attributed to the ongoing (and highly contentious) immigration debate.

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Not surprisingly, the happiness of college graduates also dipped slightly over the past two years, from 35% to 32%. We can’t imagine why. (Perhaps it’s the consistently lackluster job market and huge heaps of student loan debt?). And for Americans with disabilities, the percentage of respondents who qualified as “very happy” has decreased from 34% to 31%, which the Harris Poll suggests could be linked to budget sequester cuts in disability programs.

Other notable results from the study:

  • Women are slightly happier than men (35% to 32%)
  • Democrats and Republicans are equally “very happy” (35%), but happier than political independents (32%)
  • While 75% of Americans were optimistic about the future in 2011, only 67% reported feeling upbeat this year

The results were gleaned from a survey taken between April 10 and 15, 2013. Respondents were asked to agree or disagree with a list of statements, such as “my relationships with friends bring me happiness” and “I rarely engage in hobbies and pastimes I enjoy”.

Let’s hope that more Americans begin to seek their happiness so the next Harris Poll is a bit cheerier.

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