It’s interesting which demographics state being the happiest in the US: old, male, white, religious, rich, Republican. It makes sense. In the US, the people who fit this description have had the most privilege, power, and wealth.
Consider the comparison between Republicans and Democrats.
Why would Republicans be happier? I’m sure it partly relates to Republicans being religious. The religious demographic tends to be happy. In particular, fundamentalist and right-wing authoritarians tend to perceive themselves as happier. However, I wonder if religious conservatives are happier in the US simply because religious conservatism has been a central element of mainstream US culture. I wonder if liberal secularists would be happier if they were living in a liberal secularist society.
Why would Democrats be less happy? I’d suspect it might have to do with poor minorities and immigrants voting in higher numbers for Democrats. Those without power and wealth tend to vote Democrat and tend to live less happy lives. It sucks being a poor minority or immigrant in the US.
What is also interesting is that many more socialist countries rate higher than the US on happiness. I think this relates to wealth disparity. The lower the wealth disparity means the less social problems. The US, however, has a high wealth disparity and high rates of social problems. So, I’d suspect that the US also has a high happiness disparity.
Another interesting angle is age. Old people grew up during a time when the US had increasing wealth and there was much upward mobility. The older generation, through a few decades of Silent presidents, shifted the wealth from the young toward the older. This meant that Boomers and GenXers grew up in a time when all the programs for the youth had their funding taken away. In particular, GenX has seen the worst employment rates that any generation has seen since the Great Depression and GenX was experiencing this in the decades prior to our present economic troubles. GenXers got a bum deal. Even Millennials who were treated much better as youth are coming of age during a tough time. It sucks to be young.
It really suck to be a young minority. GenX blacks have seen prison rates worse than any demographic in all of US history. When the Silents decided to get tough on crime, they sent massive number of GenX minorities to prison.
Our country wouldn’t be the way it is if it weren’t for the policies of the white male Silents who had more presidential representation than any other group in US history. I understand that they’re happy for having had so much power and for having made the world better for themselves, but couldn’t they at least be a little bit unhappy for making the world worse off for everyone else? Oh, to be happy and oblivious to everyone else’s unhappiness. It must be nice.
As usual, it’s hard to come to any absolutely clear conclusions. I can see some complex factors.
For example, the Democrat party is much more diverse than the Republican party and so includes a wider spectrum of demographics. There are rich Democrats who are probably fairly happy, but there are also a lot of poor Democrats. Apparently, the two average out so that the Democrats overall are less happy than Republicans. Even so, I’m not sure that rich Republicans are necessarily happier than rich Democrats. Along these lines, the Democrat party includes both the highest IQ Americans and the lowest IQ Americans, but overall Democrats still have a higher average IQ than Republicans. There might not be a direct correlation between having a high IQ and being happy. It would seem, though, that there would at least be an indirect correlation in that rich people are happier and tend to have higher IQs. I’d like to know whether high IQ Republicans or high IQ Democrats are happier.
Another confusing factor is that Liberals are the high IQ demographic within the Democratic party, but 40% of liberals (as of 2005) identify as Independent rather than Democrat. Liberals are only about a third of the Democratic party. So, ignoring party affiliation, are liberals or conservatives happier? It’s possible that liberals are happier than conservatives despite the fact that Republicans are happier than Democrats. Maybe the unhappiest demographic within both parties would be the poor minorities (especially those of the younger generations) who tend to be social conservatives.