The unhappy states of America: Despite an improving economy, Americans are glum ...
In fact, Americans are more glum now than they were during the Great Recession, according to the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index. While most Americans do feel the economy is improving, the data shows, they don't think their overall well-being is going up. It could be a warning sign that Americans are concerned about more than “the economy, stupid.”
The Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index started in 2008 as a way to assess how Americans are doing beyond the usual financial and economic metrics. Every year, Gallup interviews more than 160,000 adults in the United States and asks them about their sense of purpose, their social relationships, their financial security, their health and their connectedness to their community.
In a surprise to the researchers, 2017 turned out to be the worst year for well-being on record. The overall index score was even lower than during the financial crisis, and, for the first time in the decade that Gallup has done this poll, no state in the country showed a statistically significant increase in well-being.
“It was a real eyepopper for us,” said Dan Witters, Gallup research director for the Well-Being Index. “What we found was an unprecedented decline in well-being nationally.”
The unhappiness showed up across the country: Twenty-one states had statistically significant declines in well-being in 2017, compared with 2016. It was “by far the most states we've seen drop in a single year,” Witters said, and the decline appeared in almost every region, except the Rocky Mountain states.
What's driving the gloominess now is very different from what Gallup and Sharecare, a health and wellness company, saw during the Great Recession. In 2009, a year when 15 states showed declines in well-being, money and financial worries were at the top of the list. Today, emotional and psychological factors dominate. People are not content in their jobs and relationships, and depression diagnoses are at an all-time high in the United States.
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Poor Well-Being Associated With Shift to Trump in 2016
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. counties in 2016 that took the biggest jump in voting Republican for president between 2012 and 2016 had residents who reported below-average satisfaction with their current lives and below-average optimism for the future. Accordingly, counties that shifted most strongly to the Democratic candidate reported above-average life satisfaction and higher optimism for the future.
These county-level findings are based on more than 176,000 interviews with U.S. adults across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, conducted from January to December 2016. Over 3,000 counties nationwide were aggregated into one of six clusters based on the change in their vote for president from 2012 to 2016, ranging from more than 10-percentage-point Republican gains in 2016 to more than 10-point Democratic gains. Examining 2016 data that were restricted to just January through October, thus excluding results captured after the election itself, resulted in very similar results to those found from the entire year. ...
Unlike the analysis of presidential voting trends and evaluative well-being, which points to a strong association between satisfaction levels and party preferences, the results pertaining to presidential vote and experiential well-being are mixed. Residents of counties that voted more heavily Democratic for president in 2016 than in 2012 had residents who were more likely to report happiness and enjoyment on any given day than residents of those counties that voted more Republican.
Reports of negative emotions, in contrast, did not show a clear pattern across county clusters based on presidential vote change. Residents of each cluster were similarly likely to report significant anger or worry on any given day. And the cluster that shifted most strongly to the Democratic candidate had slightly higher worry than any of the remaining groups.