Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Happiness Gap' In The US Narrows

Date:
January 28, 2009
Source:
University of Chicago Press Journals
Summary:
The American population as a whole is no happier than it was three decades ago. But happiness inequality -- the gap between the happy and the not-so-happy -- has narrowed significantly.

Happiness inequality in the U.S. has decreased since the 1970s, according to research published this month in the Journal of Legal Studies.

Related Articles


The study, by University of Pennsylvania economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, found that the American population as a whole is no happier than it was three decades ago. But happiness inequality—the gap between the happy and the not-so-happy—has narrowed significantly.

"Americans are becoming more similar to each other in terms of reported happiness," says Stevenson. "It's an interesting finding because other research shows increasing gaps in income, consumption and leisure time."

The happiness gap between whites and non-whites has narrowed by two-thirds, the study found. Non-whites report being significantly happier than they were in the early 1970s, while whites are slightly less happy. The happiness gap between men and women closed as well. Women have become less happy, while men are a little more cheerful.

One demographic area where the happiness gap increased was in educational attainment. People with a college diploma have gotten happier, while those with a high school education or less report lower happiness levels.

Stevenson and Wolfers used data collected from 1972 to 2006 through the University of Chicago's General Social Survey. Each year, participants were asked, "Taken all together, how would you say things are these days—would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?"

The proportion of people choosing "pretty happy" has increased from 49 percent in 1972 to 56 percent in 2006. Responses of "very happy" and "not too happy" decreased in relatively equal amounts. This convergence toward the middle response closed happiness gaps in nearly all the demographic groups examined.

"The U.S. population as a whole is not getting happier," Stevenson said. "For every unhappy person who became happier, there's someone on the other side coming down."

The authors say that it's hard to pin down what exactly is causing the narrowing happiness gap. But they suggest that money probably is not the answer.

"That these trends differ from trends in both income growth and income inequality suggests that a useful explanation may lie in the nonpecuniary domain," Stevenson and Wolfers write.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Stevenson et al. Happiness Inequality in the United States. The Journal of Legal Studies, 2008; 37 (s2): S33 DOI: 10.1086/592004

Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Press Journals. "'Happiness Gap' In The US Narrows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090126121352.htm>.
University of Chicago Press Journals. (2009, January 28). 'Happiness Gap' In The US Narrows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090126121352.htm
University of Chicago Press Journals. "'Happiness Gap' In The US Narrows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090126121352.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins