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Low-Income Americans More Often 'Very Happy' Than Middle Class: Poll

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ECONOMY HAPPINESS

Despite high unemployment and a national foreclosure crisis, most Americans still feel happy, according to a recent poll by Harris Interactive.

The poll, conducted in mid-May, asked 2,184 U.S. adults if they agreed with both positive statements, such as "my relationships with friends bring me happiness," or with negative statements, such as "my work is frustrating." Because most people agreed with the positive statements and disagreed with the negative ones, the survey found that 83 percent of Americans feel "very happy" or "somewhat happy," 33 percent and 50 percent, respectively. 17 percent of respondents were found to be "not happy."

Based on results from previous years, it would appear the Great Recession has had little impact on the happiness of Americans. Since last year, the percentage of those who felt "very happy" has remained the same at 33 percent, and during the 2008-09 height of the recession, an even higher percentage said they were "very happy," at 35 percent.

But it's not the poorest Americans that are least happy. When broken down by income group, it's those earning between between $75,000 and $99,999 that were least satisfied, with only 29 percent found to be "very happy." Those making the least, under $34,499, were actually the third happiest income bracket out of five.

People earning $100,000 or more yearly, were the happiest, with 37 percent feeling "very happy."

The findings lend support an article by economists Daniel Kahneman and Alan B. Krueger, which appeared in Science magazine in 2006. "People with above-average income are relatively satisfied with their lives," they wrote. "But [they] are barely happier than others in moment-to-moment experience, tend to be more tense, and do not spend more time in particularly enjoyable activities."

Still, despite the steadiness of happiness, Americans are stressing over their finances more than ever. 68 percent of respondents agreed with the statement "I frequently worry about my financial situation," the highest percentage of any year the survey was first taken since 2008. Only 30 percent disagreed.

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