January 19th, 2004

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Americans Are Happy and They Know It

Number of Happy People Highest in 50 Years

Jan. 6, 2004 -- If you're happy and you know it, you're not alone. A new survey shows that most Americans say they're "very happy" people overall.

A Gallup Poll conducted Dec. 11-14, 2003 shows that 55% of Americans say that they're "very happy" people and another 40% say they're at least fairly happy people, generally speaking. Only 4% say they're "not too happy."

With more than half of Americans saying they're very happy, researchers say that Americans' subjective sense of well-being is at the highest level recorded among the 13 surveys conducted since 1956 and 6% higher than in the December 2002 poll.

The lowest level of self-reported happiness (37%) was reported in a November 2001 poll conducted just two months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Is Happiness Relative?

In a related question, the poll also asked the 1,000 adults surveyed how satisfied they were with their own lives. On this measure, slightly more people reported a negative response with 11% saying they were either somewhat or very dissatisfied with the way things were going in their personal lives.

A majority of most major demographic groups, including men, women, whites, nonwhites, young, and old, said they were very happy people. There were no major differences between the percentages of people in one group versus another.

However, those living in low-income households and those who are unmarried generally reported being less happy than those with higher incomes and spouses.

There was also a clear link between income and personal satisfaction. The proportion of Americans who say 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 $49,000 bracket. That number soars to 75% among those making more than $75,000 annually.

The survey also shows that Republicans may have found the keys to happiness, even after taking martial status and income levels into account. Sixty-two percent of Republicans surveyed say they are very happy compared with only 50% of Democrats and 49% of Independents.
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