Recent surveys have shown that the number of happy people is declining, but those who indicate they are “very happy” have a few characteristics in common.
- A Wall Street Journal and National Opinion Research Center (NORC) poll found that the number of happy people in America is declining quickly, but those who still report that they are happy share common characteristics, including religious beliefs and practices.
- Less than half of U.S. adults surveyed said that belief in God is important, but of the group who reported being very happy, 68% said they considered faith very important, according to the poll.
- Around two-thirds of the group who reported being very happy also described themselves as “very or moderately religious.”
- The very happy group also strongly emphasized relationships, with 67% saying marriage is very important to them.
Why it’s news
From 1970 to 2015, the number of people who reported being very happy remained relatively steady, hovering between 28% and 38%. However, the number is now rapidly declining, reaching just 12% in 2023. That is the lowest level of happy respondents since the NORC survey began.
Worries about the economy and the fate of the next generation were major factors affecting the general pessimism. Around 30% of those surveyed reported being “not too happy,” the lowest happiness option in the study.
The most common factors among the very happy were a belief in God and a strong emphasis on personal relationships. Around 68% of the very happy group also claimed that believing in God was very important to them. Around 42% of the not-happy group felt the same.
About the same amount, 67%, of the very happy group also reported that marriage was essential to them, regardless of their own marital status. Of the whole population, 43% of those surveyed said marriage was important.
While happiness is declining in the U.S., church attendance has dropped, and the number of married couples has also fallen.