Gap between the happy and the not-so-happy narrows in US

January 27th, 2009 - 11:59 am ICT by ANI  

Washington, January 27 (ANI): A new study has revealed that the gap between the happy and the not-so-happy among American people has narrowed significantly in the last three decades.
University of Pennsylvania economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers have revealed that their research, published in the Journal of Legal Studies, has also shown that the American population as a whole is no happier than it was three decades ago.
“Americans are becoming more similar to each other in terms of reported happiness. It’’s an interesting finding because other research shows increasing gaps in income, consumption and leisure time,” says Stevenson.
According to the researchers, the happiness gap between whites and non-whites has narrowed by two-thirds.
They said that the non-white study subjects reported being significantly happier than they were in the early 1970s, while whites were slightly less happy.
The happiness gap between men and women closed as well, with women becoming less happy and men a little more cheerful.
Stevenson and Wolfers revealed that one demographic area where the happiness gap increased was in educational attainment.
They said that people with a college diploma were found to have gotten happier, while those with a high school education or less reported lower happiness levels.
The researchers 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 dayswould you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?”
The researchers said that the proportion of people choosing “pretty happy” had increased from 49 percent in 1972 to 56 percent in 2006.
Responses of “very happy” and “not too happy” decreased in relatively equal amounts, and that 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. For every unhappy person who became happier, there’’s someone on the other side coming down,” Stevenson said.
The studys authors said that it would be difficult to say precisely as to what was causing the narrowing happiness gap, but they suggested that money probably was 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 wrote. (ANI)

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