Why Are Americans So Incredibly Happy?

January 13, 2009

[First published February 14, 2006] In spite the continual deluge of bad news from the major media, are Americans happy with their lives? The Pew Research Center (PRC) has published a survey, “Are We Happy Yet?” The PRC did telephone interviews of a randomly selected sample of 3,014 adults. The margin of sampling error is 2%, which is meaningless given the huge differences between groups of responses.

The most interesting result is on the overall happiness of Americans, as shown in the chart below.

About one-third of Americans are very happy, and half pretty happy, which totals to 84% of Americans are happy versus 15% who are not. This great happiness of Americans has been consistent since 1972, without much variation across economic recessions, war and peace, and presidential administrations.

How does this happiness compare to other nations. While questions are not quite comparable, we can get some feel for this from the World Data Base of Happiness overall rating of nations on, “How much people enjoy their life-as-a-whole on a scale of 0 to 10.” The U.S. is 7.4, which is exceeded by fellow liberal democracies Denmark (8.2), Switzerland (8.2), Iceland (7.7), and Mexico (7.7), while at the bottom are Armenia (3.7), Ukraine (3.6), Moldova (3.5), Zimbabwe (3.3), and Tanzania (3.2), all nondemocracies, except for marginally (electorally) democratic Ukraine.

I can’t believe any readers of my blog are politically oriented, but just in case I should note how American happiness breaks out by political party. The Chart below shows this.

And this is not due to Republicans having more money. The same breakout occurs regardless of income. Also, if rather than party, we look at ideology, then conservatives are happier (40%) than moderates (33%) and moderates are happier than liberals (27%). What is more revealing is that the strength of ideology makes a difference. Conservative Republicans are happier than moderate liberal Republicans (47 to 45%), and conservative democrats are happier than liberal Democrats (31 to 28%). Independents are almost at the bottom (29%).

The PRC carried out multiple regression analysis to pin down what accounts for the overall happiness of Americans. Overall, what best explains this are health, income, church attendance, being married, and being a Republican. Now, we know why the major media trumpet the gloomy, pessimistic, and depressing news. They are overwhelmingly dominated by non-church-going, liberal Democrats.

And note this carefully, the regression analysis showed education, gender, and race did not account for happiness, holding the other effects constant. Yet, our unhappy media liberals tend to focus on these three characteristics, and especially the last two, as though happiness dependent exclusively on them.

Finally, and to me the most important result of all. Being a cat or dog owner makes no difference to being happy or not. Again, so much for theory.


How The World Views The UN

January 13, 2009

[First published February 2006] I have written much about the failure of the UN (see the list of posts on this in my archive — look under UN), and expected that thug-run UN Human Rights Commission to be in the news again with a predictable release of a report condemning American human rights practices at Guantanamo Bay. I also expect pigs to fly before the commission will release a similar report on the treatment of prisoners by Commission members China, Congo, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. This report is another salvo in the ideological war against the U.S.

This one sidedness is typical of the UN and one of the reasons I call for an Alliance of Democracies to do what the UN will not. But then I wonder: How widely shared is my negative view of the UN? A partial answer is given by Gallup International that has carried out a poll on the image of the UN that it released in October of last year on UN Day. This involved over 50,000 interviews in over 65 countries.

First, awareness of the UN is widespread, 83% responding that they know of it, many more so that the 69 percent that know of the EU (European Union). Those in North America are least aware of the UN (74%), while those in Eastern and Central Europe most (92%). Among those aware of the UN, only 48% have a positive image of it, with the chart below showing the percentages by region.

Is this low percent of positive opinions due to a general tendency to view international organizations negatively? Not judging by the chart below, where several international organizations are viewed positively.

And the EU = the European Community,
the UNHCR = the UN Refugee Agency,
the WFP =the World Food Program, and
UNICEF = UN Children’s Fund (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund).

Gallup does not provide information on the percentage of negative opinions of the UN. It does say that in all regions the UN is viewed more positively then negatively, except in the Middle East where positive and negative opinions balance out at about a third positive and a third negative. Despite the awful biased treatment Israel receives from the UN, 39% of Israelis are positive to 33% negative. What this proves is the effective pro-UN propaganda of Israeli liberal-leftists. I should note that in North America, only 35% are favorable, while in the U.S. 23% are negative.

Clearly, the UN is not seen as positively as its supporters hope, while it is not viewed as negatively as I think its record deserves, such as exemplified by its Human Rights Commission and such ridiculous reports as the one on Guantanamo Bay just released.