Americans’ happiness levels are the lowest point in almost 50 years, according to new data by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.
Based on its General Social Survey data, 14% of American adults reported being “very happy” in 2020. This is an all-time low since the study first started in 1972. The poll is conducted every other year.
The previous low was in 2010, when 29% said they were “very happy.” In 2018, which was the last time the survey was taken, 31% said they were “very happy.”
“In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, the public’s happiness is at a five-decade low,” according to the report.
More than 2,200 adults took the survey between May 21-29. The percentage of those who felt isolated jumped from 23% in 2018 to 50% in 2020, likely due to stay-at-home orders for the coronavirus. Loneliness also doubled from 2 years ago. About 45% said they felt a lack of companionship, and 37% said they felt “left out.”
Compared to previous traumatic national events, 80% of people reported stress, as compared with 90% after 9/11 and 89% after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Those who were exposed to someone with the coronavirus, however, were twice as likely to report that they feel like difficulties are piling up.
Americans were also more likely to feel bored during the pandemic or lose their temper, according to the survey. About 30% said they have lost their temper more often after the COVID-19 outbreak.
In addition, about 18% of American said they often feel anxious, depressed, or irritable compared to 13% in 2018. At the same time, the survey shows, about 80% said they were “satisfied” with their family’s financial situation.
“These contrasting findings suggest that people are comparing their happiness to their own psychological well-being before the pandemic while assessing their finances in relation to the millions of fellow Americans who have lost jobs, wages or investments following the outbreak,” according to the NORC report.