Happiness is a rare commodity in 2017 America. Overall well-being among all U.S. adults has declined from 2016, a year so remarkably bad it has been dubbed the Year of the Dumpster Fire.
Regardless of age, race, ethnicity or politics, Americans have experienced a slump in positivity this year, and the overall decline is concentrated among women, minorities, low-income adults and Democrats, according to a new poll out of Gallup.
Americans are worrying more, have little interest in doing things and don’t experience nearly as much pleasure in 2017 as they did in 2016. More Americans say no one encourages them to be healthy, they don’t see any leaders who make them feel good about the future and they don’t like their jobs. Their financial and physical well-being are both down. The only category to remain unchanged is community well-being, though no categories reported increased well-being.
Well-being dropped the most among blacks and Hispanics, and dropped slightly among whites and Asians. This lines up with the increasing number of people in the U.S. who view racism as a major problem.
Americans with lower incomes dealt with a significant drop in their happiness and well-being, whereas people with higher income didn’t see their well-being decrease much at all. This could be due in part to the fact that throughout 2017, the wage gap between America’s highest earners and the country's lowest earners continued to grow.
Women’s overall well-being dropped significantly, while the score for men remained completely unchanged. This matches up for a year that hasn’t been particularly fruitful for women and in which the gender wage gap didn’t close at all.
Unsurprisingly, the 2016 elections affected the well-being of Democrats. According to a Gallup poll, Democrats were happy in 2016 (presumably when polls showed their candidate leading the 2016 presidential election), and their attitude has notably declined below 2014 levels. Independents declined, albeit less dramatically, than Democrats, while Republican happiness declined only slightly, and statistically remained unchanged.
Those numbers are particularly interesting, not only because they beat out a year like 2016, but because unemployment, perceptions of standard of living, confidence in the economy and optimism about spending have all increased.
“Whether you’re Republican or Democrat, there’s an increased probability you’ll be in relationships that are more contentious,” Dan Witters, the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index research director, told Quartzy. “There’s going to be more arguing and more negativity than there used to be around the dinner table. That’s going to hold true regardless of whether you’re pro- or anti-Trump. But that swirling animosity, mixing it up at the dinner table, that’s real.”