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March 17, 2006

Happy, Happy, Happy

Well I'm certainly glad we settled that...

Overall happiness among U.S. residents has not changed much over the years, according to the latest survey by the Pew Research Center that finds 34 percent of adults are very happy.

Among 3,014 telephone respondents, half reported being pretty happy, and 15 percent said they are not too happy.

The survey, released this week, points out several disparities based on lifestyle, beliefs and political persuasion:

* Republicans are happier than Democrats.
* People who worship frequently are happier than those who don't.
* The rich are happier than the poor.
* Whites and Hispanics are happier than blacks.
* Married people are happier than the unmarried.
* Dog owners and cat owners rate the same.
* Sunbelt residents are happier than everyone else.

About 45 percent of Republicans said they were very happy, compared with 30 percent of Democrats. Republicans have been happier in surveys going back to 1972, the Pew study notes.

The reason might seem obvious, since "Republicans tend to have more money than Democrats, and—as we've already discovered—people who have more money tend to be happier," the report states.

But even after adjusting for income, poor Republicans are happier than poor Democrats, and rich Republicans are happier than rich Democrats.

A few other interesting finding from the full study. Strangely, 18-29 year-olds were the least likely to be happy, with young men the most dissatisfied of all:


The political data was fascinating. Interestingly, the Chinese-toy-loving minions of the richest 1% have been consistently happier since 1972 (regardless of which party was in power). This mysterious finding is no doubt explained by the many-splendored joys of over three decades of marginalizing kittens, the transgendered, and People of Cholor and treating them as Other:


Somewhat bizarrely discounting the notion that political beliefs lie along a continuous spectrum with Republicans in general to the right of Democrats, the Pew study heaps scorn on the idea that ideology has anything to do with the happiness gap:

Might ideology be the key? It's true that conservatives, who are more likely to be Republican, are happier than liberals, who are more likely to be Democrats. But even controlling for this ideological factor, a significant partisan gap remains. Conservative Republicans are happier than conservative Democrats, and moderate/liberal Republicans are happier than liberal Democrats.

My thoughts on that here and here:

I think often happiness is more often found in being satisfied with what we have than by the quantity or quality of what we own or the outcomes we experience in life. If we go through life always thinking happiness should come from some external source: that society, or government, or the world "owes" us something better, then nothing we have will ever seem good enough. Someone else will always have a bigger house, a nicer car, a better education, a prettier wife.

But if we don't expect equal outcomes, then we tend to look to ourselves to go out and get what we can in life and be more satisfied with what we do manage to find. We may not be perfectly satisfied with our present state, but we don't necessarily feel some cosmic injustice has occurred: there is no sense of grievance because our next-door neighbor has it better than we do.

At any rate, it's an interesting question.

Posted by Cassandra at March 17, 2006 07:58 AM


Maybe as minions we just find our happiness in crushing those around us.

*rubs hands gleefully*

Posted by: Masked Menace© [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 17, 2006 11:15 AM

I am warming up The Precious as MM rubs his little paws together...

Posted by: Crckt [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 17, 2006 11:22 AM

I think the key to happiness is comparing yourself to others. But don't look for richer people. Look for more miserable people. There is always some poor schmuck taking a bull's horn to the groin somewhere. That should give you some satisfaction.

Posted by: KJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 17, 2006 12:51 PM

ooooooooooooo nicely done, KJ! The old "I'm so much better off than you" gambit! Works for me.

Posted by: Crckt [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 17, 2006 01:05 PM

I'm happy(, happy, happy) to hear(, hear, hear) it!

Posted by: camojack [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 17, 2006 07:22 PM

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