TIPP: Happiness index brings happy tidings

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The year 2022 can be left behind with one comforting consensus.

It isn’t so bad, after all!

Yes, it could have been better, especially for the year drawing to a close. Just emerging from the clutches of an unprecedented pandemic, the world could have done without a war, an energy crisis, and inflation.

Yet, despite the many challenges and difficulties, most Americans are happy about their lives. This is not wishful thinking. These are the results of a poll carried out by TIPP in early December.

In early December, the TIPP Poll asked over 1300 Americans, “All things considered, how happy do you feel about your life these days?”

The numbers paint a comforting picture.

While only about a fifth claim to be “very happy,” close to half said they were “somewhat happy.” A quarter was “not very happy,” and about a tenth described themselves as “not at all happy.”

TechnoMetrica, in its tradition of out-of-box thinking, developed the Happiness Index, a barometer of Americans’ happiness, based on the above question. The responses are converted into a compact index to compare demographic segments and track happiness over time.

The index ranges from 0 to 100. Higher numbers indicate greater happiness, while lower numbers indicate decreased happiness. 50 is a neutral value.

Party Affiliation

Over the past few months, much has been said about the polarization in American society and the palpable erosion of unity in the community. Much of that has to do with the undercurrents in the political sphere.

A closer look (chart below) reveals that those sentiments are clearly reflected in the Happiness Index. Along the lines of political affiliation, Democrats have stayed well above the neutral mark since we started tracking the index in March 2022.

Despite the political climate, Republicans have also posted positive values over the past ten months. It is interesting to note that among independents, there has been a drop of nearly 4 points over the past month.

Under The Hood

In December, all 36 demographic groups we track are above 50, indicating happiness.

The demographic groups with the highest Happiness Index scores are households with income of $75K+, Blacks, investors, Democrats, those with a college degree or higher, and those aged 65+.

On the other end, the groups with the lowest Happiness Index scores are Independents, households with incomes under $30K, single women, those with some college education, and rural residents.

To better understand the variability of TIPP indexes across the 36 demographic groups, we compared their standard deviations.

The chart below shows that financial stress and quality of life exhibit the least variation, meaning better consensus among the 36 groups. The presidential leadership index and the country’s direction exhibit the greatest variation, meaning a lack of consensus among the 36 groups.

Note the position of the Happiness Index.

To better understand the relationship between financial stress and happiness, we plotted the IBD/TIPP Financial Stress Index and the TIPP Happiness Index for selected demographic groups. We divided the data into four quadrants using the overall index values for the Financial Stress Index and Happiness index.

Quadrant 1: Low Stress And High Happiness

Six demographic groups are in this segment. They are households with $75K-plus income, Democrats, Male, those in the 65+ age group, Black/Hispanic, and those in the 18 to 24 age group, fell into this quadrant.

Quadrant 2: High Stress And High Happiness

The 25 to 44 age group is the only segment in this quadrant.

Quadrant 3: High Stress And Low Happiness

Six groups occupy quadrant 3. They are Republicans, White, those in the 45 to 64 age group, Female, $50K to $75K income households, and under $30K households.

Quadrant 4: Low Stress And Low Happiness

Independents and households in the $30K to $50K income bracket are the two groups in this quadrant.

It is reassuring to note that despite the inflation putting a damper on many people’s holiday plans, overall, the mood is upbeat and cheerful. This is good news on multiple fronts. A happy and positive outlook is essential from a health and well-being perspective. Further, a happy population makes for a more productive workforce and responsible citizens.

Happiness is slowly but surely moving out of the ‘personal goal’ realm. Employee happiness is becoming a vital aspect of measuring a company’s performance. Citizens’ perception of their joy and well-being is factored into a nation’s ranking.

It is in the interest of the country, the society, the economy, and the household that individuals experience and express happiness. And delightfully, most Americans are happy.



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