Are Americans Becoming More or Less “Happy”?


Data Notes

Recently, we looked at how happy Americans were in 2022 in a visualization. It was interesting to hear back from our viewers about how they thought the data was wrong. The fact that 80% of Americans consider themselves “happy” seemed too high to believe. To better understand this, I looked at how the results have been changing over time.

I started by getting 50 years worth of data from the General Social Survey which is conducted by NORC. They ask respondents, “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?” Once I put all this data together, I cleaned in python and visualized it in Tableau.

You can see from the results that there has been a recent change in how American’s feel their lives are going. In 2018, only 13% of people said they were “Not Too Happy.” That number shot up to 25% in 2021 and went down to 20% in 2022. This is the highest percentage of people to say that over all the years of data collection. It does seem, American’s aren’t as happy as they have been in the past, though they may still be happier than you think.

Happiness is related to characteristics such as age, income, and marital status. You can check out the other visualizations we have on those topics to learn more about them.

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